Graves, Rouzer, Newhouse Lead 201 House Republicans in Renewing Calls for the Biden Administration to Drop WOTUS Expansion

Pending Supreme Court ruling could require costly revisions to premature rule changes

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Transportation and Infrastructure Ranking Member Sam Graves (MO-06), Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Ranking Member David Rouzer (NC-07), and Congressional Western Caucus Chairman Dan Newhouse (WA-04) are leading 201 House Republicans – including the entirety of the Congressional Western Caucus – in renewing calls for the Biden Administration to drop its plan to expand the scope of “waters of the United States” (WOTUS).
 
House Republican Leader and Western Caucus Vice Chair Kevin McCarthy (CA-23), House Republican Whip Steve Scalise (LA-01), and House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (NY-21) are among the Republicans who also signed the letter.
 
Beyond their opposition to the unnecessary burdens a broader WOTUS definition would have on businesses, communities, and private citizens, the Members strongly oppose such a move until the recently announced WOTUS-related Supreme Court case (Sackett) is decided. In a letter to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael S. Regan and Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Michael L. Conner (Agencies), they argue that a premature rulemaking would cause more confusion for impacted parties, waste taxpayer resources, and hinder efforts to improve U.S. infrastructure and protect clean water.
 
“We urge the EPA and the Corps to halt all current rulemaking actions surrounding the WOTUS definition as the United States Supreme Court takes up this landmark case. The Agencies should instead use this time to continue meaningful engagement with stakeholders…,” the Members wrote. “This would allow the Agencies to fully understand and account for the impacts to small businesses, farmers, rural communities, and countless other stakeholders that will result from any regulatory change to the definition of WOTUS.”
 
The Members detailed their firm opposition to the current WOTUS rulemaking: 
  • A Supreme Court ruling on WOTUS later this year will have significant impacts on any rule the Agencies put forward.  A premature rulemaking will compound existing uncertainty and confusion for stakeholders, who have already experienced years of uncertainty over WOTUS definition and scope changes.
  • The Agencies have stated their rulemaking will take into account “updates to be consistent with relevant Supreme Court decisions.”  With such a significant decision pending, refusing to push pause on their current rewrite rather than wait for the Supreme Court’s action could lead to another complete rewrite just months down the line, wasting taxpayer resources.
  • A broader WOTUS rule will delay, obstruct, and drive up the costs of improving U.S. infrastructure, and ultimately diminish the value of funding for projects across the country, including those funded by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
  • Due to the WOTUS rulemaking’s anticipated negative impact on small businesses, the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy has already requested the Agencies pause and a Small Business Advocacy Review (SBAR) panel be held.
 Click here to read the full letter.
 
Background:
 
Reps. Graves and Rouzer first called for a halt to the Agencies’ rulemaking, based on the Supreme Court’s decision to take up the Sackett case, in January. Chairman Newhouse and Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (IA-02) echoed this call.
 
When the Biden Administration announced their intention to revise and remand the Trump Administration’s Navigable Waters Protection Rule, Chairman Newhouse, Rep. Miller-Meeks, Senator Steve Daines (MT), and Senator Joni Ernst (IA) led Western Caucus Members in a bicameral letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan and Acting Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jaime Pinkham to express their serious concerns and demand answers about the Administration’s plans to reopen the definition of “waters of the United States.” Click here to read the letter and learn more.
 
In November of 2021, Western Caucus Members from across the country issued statements in response to the Administration’s proposed rule. Click here to read more.

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