Regulatory Interpretation Protection Act — Waters of the United States

The House of Representatives moments ago passed the Regulatory Interpretation Protection Act (H.R. 1732).  The vote was 261 to 155.  Passage occurred after turning back amendments to scale back the bill’s directives to repeal the proposed rulemaking governing which waters of the U.S. should be subject to USEPA and USACE review and permitting as well as to clarify that in the absence of a rule that USEPA and USACE are authorized to ensure the safety of surface waters.

With the vote, attention now turns to the Senate where a similar bill, S. 1140, has been introduced with bi-partisan support.  It is unclear, however, whether there are sixty votes to allow for Senate debate to proceed.

At the same time, the House version of the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2016 contains a policy rider prohibiting the use of any USACE funds to implement the rule if it is issued.  If successfully enacted into law the ride might make H.R. 1732 or S. 1140 unnecessary.

The Administration issued a strongly worded condemnation of H.R. 1732 that presumably would also apply to S. 1140.  A copy of the Administration’s position is attached here.  All in all, the White House veto threat and whether veto override might be successful, given the level of support in the Senate, makes the outcome of this legislation an open question.

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