GOP Senate Bucks Trump & Votes To Protect Key Obama Legacy

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The Republican dominated House, Senate, and White House has been busy trying to erase everything that President Barack Obama accomplished during his years in office. The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) administrator, Scott Pruitt, has been especially enthusiastic about this, but what happened on Thursday was a big surprise.

Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) introduced an amendment to stop the funding needed for enforcing Obama’s landmark Clean Water Rule, aka Waters of the United States. The Clean Water Rule was designed to change the federal government’s authority over bodies of waters and small waterways, such as ponds and headwaters.

In surprise move, the Senate voted 62 to 34 to table Lee’s amendment. They blocked it.

The rule was developed in accordance with the EPA. Thus far, several federal courts have placed holds on the rule, and Trump’s administration has been set upon killing it.

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Lee’s amendment would have halted the amendment from funding a major Army Corps of Engineers’ spending bill. The corps is responsible for enforcing the Clean Water Rule.

Although the Republicans have been against Obama’s water rule, 20 of their senators voted with the Democrats to block Lee’s amendment. The reason was that if they had not, the GOP Senate Appropriations Committee leaders’ deal would have fallen apart.

That deal was to stay away from the controversial policy provisions in their appropriation bills. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said, according to C-SPAN:

‘I have no doubt about it, I can’t find many people on this side of the aisle who approved of the Waters of the United States regulation of the previous administration.’

The majority leader continued talking about passing a spending bill in huge packages, ones that were written as a product of conference negotiations.

‘It’s on the way to the ash heap of history right now under this administration. So this is not about Waters of the United States or whether we are for it or against it. This is about whether we want to get away from annual omnibus appropriation bills, and this is the first test here.’

Lee was clearly unhappy. He responded to McConnell, saying that there was a 2016 resolution where 53 senators voted to repeal Obama’s water rule. He said that was plenty to pass the measure:

‘It is not unusual to have policy in an appropriations bill. It happens with some regularity.’

The reason the Republicans have been hot to do away with the rule is that industries have been lobbying them with enticing amounts of campaign donations. They say that Obama’s rule gave the government too much power over large areas of water and land.

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Last year when Scott Pruitt was in Congress, he tried to repeal it. Now that he is the head of the EPA, he has been working on an industry-friendly replacement. The White House Office of Management and Budget under Donald Trump has begun reviewing the proposal. That is the last stage prior to releasing it for public comments.

While Obama was in office, the House voted to repeal the water bill, but 44 vetoed their attempt.

Featured Image via Getty Images/Bloomberg Contributor.