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On Tuesday, Senate Democrats defeated an attempt by Republicans to kill—of all things—a Clean Water Rule. Because, you know, overreach by the Obama administration in trying to make our water clean.
The rule, which was finalized in June and which clarifies what water bodies get the protections of the landmark Clean Water Act, restored safeguards for streams and wetlands that lacked clear protection.
The Senate voted on a motion to take up a bill sponsored by Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) that would have killed the rule. As the White House pointed out in threatening a presidential veto of the bill, it would also “require the agencies to define [protected waters] in a manner inconsistent with the [Act] as interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court, resulting in more confusion, uncertainty, and inconsistency,” and would “result in higher drinking water treatment costs, increased contamination of fish and
loss of recreational opportunities including hunting and fishing, and more frequent algal blooms that choke rivers and lakes and make waters unhealthy as a drinking water source or to swim and fish in.” The motion to proceed to the bill required 60 votes to pass, and the proponents of the bill fell three votes short.
Not to be thwarted in his strategy of wasting as much of the Senate’s time as humanly possible, on Wednesday Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tried a different tactic, bringing up a resolution of disapproval of the rule, which only requires 51 votes. It passed, 53-44
The resolution would prevent the implementation of the water rule, but it’s ultimately unlikely to take effect, given opposition from President Obama and the GOP’s inability to secure a veto-proof majority.
This is how it’s going to be for the next year, in case you were wondering. McConnell will be spending as much time as possible coming up with ways to get bills to President Obama’s desk that he will have to veto. Throw in a smattering of brinksmanship by both McConnell and new House Speaker Paul Ryan over poison pill policy riders in spending bills, sprinkle in a threat of government shutdowns, and the coming year promises to be even worse than what we’ve already seen.