On April 6, President Joe Biden vetoed a joint resolution from the House and Senate that aimed to repeal his Waters of the United States (WOTUS) regulation. This move could represent a potentially fatal blow to that particular challenge to his environmental agenda.
The anticipated veto was issued in the afternoon of the aforementioned day. The president tweeted “I just vetoed a bill that attempted to block our Administration from protecting our nation’s waterways–a resource millions of Americans depend on—from destruction and pollution,”
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) replied, stating, “Incorrect. President Biden’s overreaching WOTUS rule jeopardizes the livelihoods of American farmers and small businesses”
The disapproval resolution passed the Republican-led House with a vote of 227-198 on March 9. It was then agreed upon by the Democrat-led Senate on March 30 with a 53-43 vote. Interestingly enough, it garnered support from non-Republicans in rural states, where Biden’s WOTUS definition is viewed as a significant challenge for landowners of some of the US’s protected lands and natural wonders.
The group of outliers included Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-N.M.), along with Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.). In contrast, Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), John Fetterman (D-Penn.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), and Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) did not vote.
To overcome Biden’s veto, it would need a two-thirds vote from both the House and Senate, which seems to be a long shot considering the present configuration of Congress.
It is Biden’s second veto since he took office, both having some relation to his environmental agenda. His previous veto aimed at an anti-ESG investment measure.
WOTUS has been a subject of dispute for quite some time. The original law defined “waters of the United States as the country’s navigable waterways,” but environmentalists are in support of broader views of WOTUS, stating that it is essential to protect marshland and other habitats. Conversely, many farmers, ranchers, and other landowners regard wider WOTUS definitions as cumbersome, unrealistic, and in some instances, harmful to the environment.
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