The Democratic-led Senate has voted to repeal a regulation issued by the Biden administration under the Endangered Species Act, which expands the definition of the word “habitat” to widen federal jurisdiction over public and private lands.
The regulation, known as the ” Regulations for Listing Endangered and Threatened Species and Designating Critical Habitat” was issued by the Department of the Interior in June of 2022. It repealed another Trump administration rule that would have limited the definition of the term “critical habitat” in the Endangered Species Act of 1973 to only those areas that are required to “support the survival of the species,” per the rule’s text. Once land is designated a “critical habitat,” federal agencies cannot “authorize, fund, or carry out” any activity that would destroy or modify the habitat, according to the rule.
The Senate bill to repeal the regulation passed with a 51-49 vote. Two Democratic Caucus Senators – Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Angus King of Maine – voted with all Republicans in favor of the repeal despite opposition from the Senate Democratic Caucus. The bill was sponsored by Republican Sen. Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming.
“[T]he Biden administration is causing chaos and confusion among private property owners throughout Wyoming and the west. Two-thirds of all endangered species are located on private lands, so private property owners need to be partners in species recovery, not the enemy,” wrote Lummis ahead of the vote.
A companion bill, H.J. Res. 46, has been introduced in the House of Representatives by Republican Rep. Cliff Bentz of Oregon. The measure to repeal the rule is likely to pass Congress given the Republican majority in the House of Representatives, with the Republican Conference supporting the bill.
Though rule repeal bills under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) are not subject to a Senate filibuster, enabling them to advance without 60 votes in favor, President Joe Biden has vowed to veto any such bills repealing his administration’s regulations if presented to him by Congress. The Senate’s passage of the bill is the latest in a series of several votes by Senate Republicans to overturn Biden regulations with the help of Manchin, who has often opposed them.
However, it was the yes vote of Independent Sen. Angus King of Maine, who caucuses with Democrats, that led to the bill’s passage. Maine’s lobster industry has faced significant litigation from endangered species groups over its activities, which they argue harm North Atlantic right whales, an endangered species.
“We don’t have to choose between lobsters and whales…We just have to be sensible about approaching this in a way that will protect the whales but also protect the way of life of these wonderful people,” remarked King, referring to lobster industry workers, on the Senate floor in 2022.
So far, the only two vetoes that Biden has issued in his presidency have been CRA rule repeals, passed with Manchin’s support.
Bentz, King and Lummis did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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