President Biden on Thursday vetoed an attempt by Congress to undo waterway pollution regulations put forward by his administration — marking the second veto of his presidency and effectively killing the attempt to nullify the water rule.
Majorities of both chambers of Congress had voted to nix the Biden rules, which defined which waters are subject to federal protections.
The White House had previously announced that Biden would veto the congressional measure, which is unlikely to be able to get the two-thirds majority needed to override the veto.
In a statement on the veto, Biden said that the water regulation “provides clear rules of the road that will help advance infrastructure projects, economic investments, and agricultural activities — all while protecting water quality and public health.”
He added that without it, there would be greater uncertainty, which would “threaten economic growth.”
Waters that receive federal protections require permits in order for industry to carry out activities that may pollute the waters like construction or mining.
Right-wing opponents of the Biden administration’s rule say it is too broad and offers protection to waters that may not need them at the expense of industry.
“By vetoing this Congressional Review Act resolution of disapproval, President Biden is ignoring the will of a bipartisan majority in Congress, leaving millions of Americans in limbo, and crippling future energy and infrastructure projects with red tape,” Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) said in a statement.
“There’s a reason those who work in agriculture, building, mining, and small businesses of all kinds across America strongly supported our effort to block the Biden waters rule, and I’m disappointed the president chose to stand by his blatant executive overreach,” Capito added.
However the vote to get rid of the rule did receive some bipartisan support in both the Senate and the House. In the Senate, four Democrats and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.), who caucuses with Democrats, voted to get rid of it; as did nine Democrats in the House.
Nevertheless, which waters to protect has gone back and forth depending on which party is in the White House, with former President Trump significantly reducing which waters were protected compared to rules under the Obama administration.
Both the Trump and Obama water rules ran into court hurdles, and neither was in place when the Biden rule was issued.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court is set to weigh in on a case pertaining to which waters can get protections, so the Biden rules could face another hit — through the arguments in that case centered primarily on wetlands.
While any override attempt is not likely to be successful, Reps. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) and David Rouzer (R-N.C.) indicated in a press release that the House could take up the matter.
“I urge all of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to join us in overriding this veto so we can terminate this ambiguous, onerous and burdensome rule,” Rouzer said.
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