The U.S. House of Representatives is set up to vote on the Energy and Water Appropriations bill soon, now that the bill is out of committee, according to the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association (NSSGA).
The $37.4 billion bill includes a policy rider, or legal language, that stops the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule and increases the budget for the Army Corps of Engineers, the agency charged with enforcing EPA’s permits, by $100 million. The WOTUS rule drastically expands the federal government’s jurisdiction over virtually all wet areas. An attempt from Democrats to strip all policy riders from the bill failed, as the House Appropriations Committee moved the bill to the House floor.
“Stopping the WOTUS rule remains a high priority for the Association” said Pam Whitted, NSSGA's senior vice president for legislative and regulatory affairs. “We hope that Congress heeds the call of the aggregates community, which has joined with 33 states and numerous associations suing to stop the rule. Congressional attention is needed, and we are heartened that members of the House are once again including a policy rider on this important issue.”
The Senate Appropriations Committee is also moving on fiscal 2017 appropriations measures and passed its version of the 2017 Energy and Water Appropriations bill out of committee this week. It was approved by the committee with few riders attached, but Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.), will offer an amendment to stop the WOTUS rule when the bill is considered by the full Senate. The amendment must meet a 60-vote threshold, and NSSGA does not expect it will pass.
However, this is not the first time that policy riders have been used to try to stop the WOTUS rule. In recent years, these riders have been attached to multiple appropriations bills and budget deals only to be stripped at the last minute in order to gain the Democratic support needed to pass the package.