Mississippi River Low Water

Low-water restrictions on barge loads make for cautious navigation through the Mississippi River as evidenced by this tow passing under the Mississippi River bridges in Vicksburg, Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2022. The unusually low water level in the lower Mississippi River is causing some barges to get stuck in the muddy river bottom, resulting in delays.

(The Center Square) – Both chambers of Congress approved and are sending President Joe Biden a resolution to end the “Waters of the United States” rule, but he has promised to veto it.

In January, the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers published the Biden administration’s expected change which halted the 2020 Navigable Waters Protection Rule. It reverted regulations back to the Obama administration’s rule under the Clean Water Act, bringing wetlands, streams, lakes, ditches and other bodies of water under federal jurisdiction. Further, the U.S. Supreme Court has yet to rule on a case affecting the rule.

In a bipartisan vote, the Senate approved a resolution 53-43 under the Congressional Review Act, a method for legislators to overturn executive branch regulations with a simple majority vote. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W. Va., and the ranking member on the Environment and Public Works Committee, led the effort in the chamber.

“By voting to overturn President Biden’s waters rule, we are sending a clear, bipartisan message that Congress, even a divided one, will defend working Americans in the face of executive overreach,” Capito said in a statement. “I’m proud to lead my colleagues in standing up for farmers and ranchers, landowners and builders, and energy and infrastructure workers across the United States. I urge President Biden not to overrule the will of a bipartisan majority in Congress, and instead draft a new rule that doesn’t unfairly penalize millions of Americans and jeopardize future growth in our country.”

Sen. Krysten Sinema, I-Ariz., joined four Democrat members – Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen of Nevada, Jon Tester of Montana and Joe Manchin of West Virginia – in voting for the resolution.

An identical resolution in the House was introduced in February by Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo., and chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. It passed 227-198 along party lines in the House on March 9.

“The measure to overturn the Biden WOTUS rule, now approved by both the Senate and the House, is a clear message from Congress that enough is enough, and I appreciate Senator Capito’s leadership in ensuring that this resolution will now be sent to President Biden’s desk,” Graves said in a statement.

All six of Missouri’s Republican congressional delegation sent a letter to the EPA in late January requesting an immediate end to the rule. They said the new regulation could ruin farming operations throughout the state and gives the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers the power to “regulate every puddle and drainage ditch across America.”

“Americans continue to suffer under the economic crises caused by the disastrous policies of the Biden Administration,” Graves said on Wednesday. “From their anti-energy agenda, to the incredibly intrusive federal overreach of their proposed WOTUS rule, the Administration is doing everything in its power to impose more red tape and more costs on our businesses, farmers, builders, and communities.”

Staff Reporter

Joe Mueller covers Missouri for The Center Square. After seven years of reporting for daily newspapers in Illinois and Missouri, he spent the next 30 years in public relations serving non-profit organizations and as a strategic communications consultant.