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Senate votes to kill EPA’s water rule

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Senate votes to kill EPA’s water rule

The Senate approved a bill Wednesday to block the Obama administration’s new regulation setting federal authority over small waterways.

The Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution against the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) water rule passed on a 53-44 vote. Three Democrats joined every Republican except Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) in advancing the bill.

The resolution would prevent the implementation of the water rule, but it’s ultimately unlikely to take effect, given opposition from President Obama and the GOP’s inability to secure a veto-proof majority.

But Republicans said the resolution would put their opposition to Obama’s environmental regulations squarely in the president’s hands.

“My legislation is the necessary next step in pushing back against this blatant power grab by the EPA,” Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), the resolution’s sponsor, said in a floor speech Wednesday.

“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.”

Republicans have long opposed the EPA’s water rule, which asserts federal regulatory authority over small bodies of water such as wetlands and some ponds.

Its opponents argue the rule gives the federal government too much power. Democrats from rural states have also joined the effort, warning the rule will have a negative affect on agriculture and energy development.

Wednesday’s vote came after Republicans failed to advance a bill from Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) that would undo the water rule and send it back the EPA with instructions for a re-write.

CRA resolutions don’t require a 60-vote threshold to overcome a filibuster, giving Republicans an opportunity to pass a bill undoing the rule over the objection of Democrats.

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