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Rules to protect smaller waterways survive

Rules to protect smaller waterways survive
Posted at 8:43 AM, Jan 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-21 11:43:47-05

WASHINGTON (AP) — New federal rules to protect smaller streams, tributaries and wetlands have survived the latest Republican effort to block them.

Congress last week sent President Barack Obama a "resolution of disapproval" that would scrap the rules, a measure he promptly vetoed. On Thursday, the Senate voted 52-40, falling short of the three-fifths threshold to vote on a veto override.

Republicans didn't appear to have the votes to win an override if they had been able to vote. An override needs support from two-thirds of the Senate and two-thirds of the House.

The rules are designed to protect smaller bodies of water from development and pollution. The Obama administration says they would safeguard drinking water for 117 million people.

Republicans and some Democrats representing rural areas say the regulations are costly, confusing and amount to a government power grab, giving federal regulators unprecedented control of small bodies of water on private land. Federal courts have put the rules on hold as judges review lawsuits.

The rules clarify which smaller waterways fall under federal protection after two Supreme Court rulings left the reach of the Clean Water Act uncertain.