The House of Representatives passed a resolution that would render the federal Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule ineffective on Wednesday. In order to keep the WOTUS definition in force President Obama will have to veto the measure.
The rule is widely unpopular among farmers and agriculture industry groups. On the heels of today's vote, Obama has the option of vetoing the disapproval resolution. Congress may then attempt to override his veto.
Although it’s not common for presidents to veto controversial bills during election years, Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) thinks Obama is likely to do just that. If that's the case, Congress is unlikely to have enough votes to override it.
“They did not [have the votes] in the Senate,” says Huelskamp, referencing the elimination-resolution voting results. “I don’t know where the votes will be in the House.”
Huelskamp says it will come down to lawmakers deciding where their loyalties lie. “We are going to have to ask, ‘Are you still with the president, or are you against agriculture?’” he says.
Farmers have pleaded with lawmakers to repeal the rule. House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway (R-Texas) says they merit an audience.
“Farmers and ranchers deserve a government that will review and consider their thoughts, not a government that refuses to engage stakeholders and hands down orders from on high,” Conaway says.
Court action represents farmers' last shot at getting out of the reach of the new EPA regulations if Obama vetoes the resolution and Congress doesn’t have the votes to override it, Huelskamp says.
“We still have the court action going on,” he says. “It’s not just ag groups in court. There are plenty of other interests in court with us. The battle will still play out."