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A bipartisan group of legislators in the United States Senate voted 55-43 to pass a resolution (S.J.Res. 22) that nullifies the controversial “Waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) rule. The resolution was introduced by Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Ia.) following a procedural vote on the ABC-supported Federal Water Quality Protection Act (S. 1140), which was blocked by Senate Democrats in a 57-41 vote (short of the 60 votes needed to advance). The resolution also prevents the agencies from issuing a similar version of the regulation in the future.

Ahead of the vote, ABC sent a letter to members of the U.S. Senate, urging them to support S.J. Res 22. The resolution would force the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to withdraw the burdensome WOTUS regulation, which increases the types of water subject to federal regulation. In the letter, ABC explained, “This regulation creates uncertainty over what waterways will be subject to federal jurisdiction, forcing construction businesses to apply for more permits in fear of non-compliance. The lack of clarity will lead to an unnecessarily longer and more expensive permitting process for contractors, which substantially increases the cost of doing business.”

Prior to the passage of the joint resolution, the Senate considered S. 1140. The bill, sponsored by Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of 46 senators, would have forced EPA and USACE to withdraw and rewrite the WOTUS rule with a new proposed rule that adheres to previous definitions of navigable waters subject to federal regulation under the Clean Water Act (CWA). ABC sent a letter in support of S. 1140 to each member of the Senate ahead of the vote, stressing the need for Congress to act to reign in the WOTUS rule and its harmful impact on the construction industry. Additionally, more than 400 ABC members sent a letter to their Senators urging them to support the legislation.

ABC has been a vocal opponent of the WOTUS rule since it was first proposed in April 2014. ABC and more than 50 ABC chapters submitted comments urging the EPA to withdraw its proposed rule based on concerns that the regulation “will lead to a flood of unnecessary and excessive permitting requests with associated and equally unnecessary project delays and increased costs.” ABC also filed comments along with a group of 375 trade associations led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and as a leading member of the Waters Advocacy Coalition.