The House of Representatives recently considered and approved the Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act(1) which, if enacted, would repeal the current proposal and establish a consultation process that would involve federal agencies and state and local officials, with a proposed rulemaking developed and later issued based on the consultation process. Despite a strong White House veto threat, 35 House Democrats – mostly from rural districts – joined Republicans in passing the bill, by a 262 to 152 vote. The bill will not be taken up in the Senate. While not veto-proof, the vote does lay the groundwork for a potential battle in the 114th Congress, especially if Republicans gain control of the Senate. Two 2015 fiscal year spending bills still pending in the house include riders which, if enacted, would block the rule from being finalised.

The uproar on the proposal, which was issued in Spring 2014, has seemingly surprised administration officials. Washington insiders continue to question the Environmental Protection Agency's decision to issue the proposal during an election year and raise the profile of the issue, especially for in-cycle Democrats with constituents expressing significant concerns regarding the matter.

Rick Boucher and Catherine Karen

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