WASHINGTON – The US Senate narrowly defeated a resolution that would have revised the Waters of the US rule (WOTUS). The resolution introduced by Sen. John Barasso (R-Wyo.) directed the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers to replace WOTUS with a rule that “protects traditional navigable water and wetlands from water pollution, while also protecting farmers, ranchers and private landowners.”

Instead, lawmakers voted 53-44 to proceed on another resolution that would effectively eliminate WOTUS. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) introduced the resolution that would order the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers to withdraw WOTUS. The resolution also would prevent other agencies from making similar rules. The resolution now heads to the US House of Representatives. 

US Sen. Joni Ernst
Sen. Joni Ernst

“Today’s passage to scrap the expanded WOTUS rule is a major win for our hardworking farmers, ranchers, manufacturers, and small businesses who are continuously ignored by the EPA,” Ernst said in a statement. “It is abundantly clear that the WOTUS rule is ill-conceived and breeds uncertainty, confusion, and more red tape that threatens the livelihoods of many in Iowa and across the country.”

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association applauded passage of Ernst’s resolution.

“America’s cattlemen and women are drowning in federal regulation that adds burdens, costs and uncertainty to our businesses,” said Philip Ellis, NCBA president, in a statement. “The WOTUS regulation is the greatest overreach yet. If allowed to take effect, it would give EPA jurisdiction over millions of acres of state and private property. Without action by Congress and the President to withdraw this rule, producers, stakeholders and states will be forced to continue litigation, adding millions of dollars in expenses and years in delay.” 

US Sen. John Barrasso
Sen. John Barrasso

Barrasso said his resolution was “the first real opportunity” for a yes vote for clean water. He blamed Senate democrats for the failed resolution. 

“While we may have fallen short today, this is not the end of this issue,” Barrasso said in a statement. “One way or another, Republicans won’t stop until this rule is withdrawn or the courts ultimately strike it down for good.”