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One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato (429-347 BC)

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Bipartisan Majority In Senate Passes Disapproval Of EPA "Waters Of The US" Reg

Img at "Rise of Attacks On Jews in Germany"
Today in Washington, D.C. - Nov. 4, 2015:
The House reconvened at 10 AM (EST) today.

Today the House may consider:
H.R. 22 — "To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to exempt employees with health coverage under TRICARE or the Veterans Administration from being taken into account for purposes of determining the employers to which the employer mandate applies under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act."

Yesterday the House passed H. Res. 354 (418-0) — "Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives regarding the safety and security of Jewish communities in Europe." This was in response to rising anti-Jewish situations and in specific violent attacks on Jews and Jewish Synagogues in France and Denmark.

The Senate reconvened at 10 AM (EST) today and resumed consideration of S.J. Res. 22, the Joint Resolution of Disapproval of the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers “Waters of the United States” rule. This resolution, sponsored by Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), would overturn the rule under the Congressional Review Act (CRA).

At noon (EST), the Senate voted 53-44 to pass S.J. Res. 22.

Yesterday, despite bipartisan support, most Senate Democrats filibustered Sen. John Barrasso’s (R-WY) legislation to overturn the Obama administration’s “Waters of the U.S.” regulation, require the EPA to start over, and protect drinking water. The motion to proceed to the bill, S. 1140, was filibustered by a vote of 57-41.

The Senate later voted 55-43 to proceed to S.J. Res. 22, because resolutions of disapproval under the CRA are not subject to filibusters.

The AP reported yesterday, “Democrats have blocked a Senate bill that would have forced the Obama administration to withdraw new federal rules to protect smaller streams, tributaries and wetlands from development and pollution.

“Supporters of the legislation — and opponents of the rules — did not get the 60 votes needed Tuesday to stop debate and consider the bill. The vote was 57-41, meaning Democrats have blocked the bill, for now<. . . .

“Republicans and a handful of Democrats from rural states say they fear a steady uptick in federal regulation of every stream and ditch. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said on the Senate floor that the regulations are ‘a cynical and overbearing power grab dressed awkwardly as some clean water measure.’

“The Senate bill, similar to legislation passed by the House earlier this year, would force the Environmental Protection Agency to withdraw and rewrite the rules. Four Democrats voted with Republicans on the measure — Sens. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Joe Donnelly of Indiana.”

Following the vote, the lead sponsor of the bill, Sen. John Barasso (R-WY), said, “A clear bipartisan majority of senators voted today to stop the Environmental Protection Agency’s federal water grab. Regrettably, too many Senate Democrats chose to block this first real opportunity to vote yes to clean water and no to extreme bureaucracy. Instead of standing with America’s farmers, ranchers, small businesses and private-land owners, these senators chose to side with President Obama’s out-of-control EPA.

“While we may have fallen short today, this is not the end of this issue. One way or another, Republicans won’t stop until this rule is withdrawn or the courts ultimately strike it down for good.”

News outlets in states that would feel the impact of this rule took notice.

In Montana, The Helena Independent Record noted noted, “Montana’s U.S. senators were split on a vote Tuesday to force the EPA to withdraw its Clean Water Rule and start over.

“Republicans led by Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., attempted to force the Environmental Protection Agency to rewrite rules spelling out what water bodies get protection under the 40-year-old Clean Water Act. Supporters needed 60 votes to pass their bill, but received 57.

“Republican Sen. Steve Daines sided with agriculture and natural resource industries in calling the EPA to head back to rewrite, while Democratic Sen. Jon Tester rejected the bill. All but four Democrats voted against making the EPA start over.

“‘Today the Senate came just a few votes shy of passing legislation to protect our farmers, ranchers and small business owners from major new costs and regulatory burdens,’ Daines said in a statement after the vote. ‘I appreciate the bipartisan support demonstrated today by four key Senate Democrats and am disappointed that others chose instead to put President Obama’s agenda ahead of doing what’s right.’ . . .

“The mining industry, Montana homebuilders and the state Chamber of Commerce also supported the bill. Like the agriculture and petroleum groups opposed to the bill, the later groups said the EPA rule determining which water bodies could be regulated for clean water was too far-reaching and bad for business.”

In Missouri, St. Louis Public Radio reported, “U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., is one of only three Democrats who have signed onto a bill that would scrap a new rule governing the Clean Water Act. Republicans have assailed the so-called ‘Waters of the United States’ rule as Obama administration ‘regulatory overreach,’ a quickly emerging theme for GOP campaigns in next year’s elections.

“Critics say both the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corp of Engineers are ‘going too far’ in attempting to exert authority they say is well beyond the original intent of Congress when it passed the act in 1972. . . .

“Both agencies say they need the new rule to clarify their jurisdiction in the wake of those Supreme Court cases, but McCaskill and others say the rule only adds to the confusion. ‘The way the rule has been drafted has left too many things open ended, which is causing concern,’ McCaskilll said. She said she heard numerous concerns from farmers and others as she traveled throughout Missouri on an ‘ag tour’ during the congressional break in August. In her news release announcing her opposition to the new rule, McCaskill said the EPA needs to ‘go back to the drawing board’ and argued the new rule goes too far. . . .

“U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., was an early co-sponsor of the bill and frequently speaks out on executive branch regulations he sees as overly burdensome to citizens and businesses.”

Despite the setback of Democrats filibustering Sen. Barrasso’s legislation, there is another way to block this rule. The AP story continued, “Opponents of the rules said they would continue to fight them. Shortly after Democrats blocked the bill, the Senate voted to proceed to a so-called ‘resolution of disapproval’ sponsored by Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst that would scrap the rules if signed into law. Only a simple majority is needed to pass the resolution, which could be approved as soon as Wednesday.”

The Hill adds, “The Senate voted Tuesday to advance a measure to block the Obama administration’s new regulation asserting federal authority over small waterways.

“The vote came just over an hour after Senate Democrats blocked a procedural vote on a related bill from Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) to force the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to go back to the drawing board and re-write its Waters of the United States rule.

“The successful vote, passed 55-43, moved forward a resolution under the Congressional Review Act (CRA), a rarely used tactic that allows for a simple majority to disapprove of any regulation without a 60-vote threshold. . . . Republicans had put great efforts into Barrasso’s bill, which would have given the EPA specific instructions to rewrite the rule with certain exemptions and consultations to protect stakeholders.

“But with that bill’s failure, Ernst said the CRA is necessary to stop the rule. . . . ‘My legislation is the necessary next step in pushing back against this blatant power grab by the EPA,’ Ernst said on the Senate floor. ‘We will send this to the president, where he will be forced to decide between the livelihood of our rural communities nationwide and his unchecked federal agency.’”

This afternoon, the Senate voted 53-44 to pass Sen. Ernst’s resolution of disapproval. Under the CRA such resolutions of disapproval cannot be filibustered.

Earlier today, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell explained again why this sweeping regulation is so bad for so many states. “The Administration’s so-called ‘Waters of the U.S.’ regulation would grant federal bureaucrats dominion over nearly every piece of land that has ever touched a pothole, ditch, or puddle at some point. It would force the Americans who live there to ask federal bureaucrats for permission to do just about anything with their own property.

“We’re not talking about just a few acres falling under bureaucratic control here and there. According to an analysis by the American Farm Bureau, we’re talking about centralized federal control extending to nearly 92 percent of Wisconsin, 95 percent of California, 98 percent of New York, 99 percent of Pennsylvania and — if you can believe this — 100 percent of Virginia.

“This isn’t some clean-water regulation, it’s an unprecedented federal power grab that clumsily — and poorly — pretends to masquerade as one. It’s obvious why Waters of the U.S. would be a left-winger’s dream.

“It’s equally obvious why Democratic leaders would want to pretend this rule is about clean water, rather than admit what it’s really about. Because the true purpose and scope of this regulation is basically indefensible. Thirty-one states have already filed suit against it. Two federal courts have already ruled that it is likely illegal. . . .

“That’s why we considered the bipartisan Federal Water Quality Protection Act yesterday,” he said. “This bipartisan legislation would have required America’s clean-water rules to be based on the kind of scientific, collaborative process the American people expect — not some ‘arbitrary’ or ‘inexplicable’ process that’s ‘devoid’ of reason like we had with WOTUS, but a balanced process that actually takes the views of those it affects into serious consideration.

Unfortunately, Leader McConnell said, “most Democrats chose an ideological power grab over sensible clean-water rules yesterday. . . . Well, the Senate is going to pursue another avenue today to protect the Middle Class from this unfair regulatory attack.

“Our colleague from Iowa has introduced a measure that would allow Congress to move forward despite the Democrat filibuster. It would overturn the regulation in its entirety. A majority of the Senate voted to support this bill yesterday.”

A similar majority voted today to pass the disapproval resolution.

Tags: The House, resolution addressing, attacks on Jews, Europe, The Senate, Senate, resolution, disapproval, EPA, Waters of the US, regulation,   To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
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