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Flood Insurance and Modernization Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. HELLER. Mr. President, I rise today to discuss one of the biggest threats to economic growth in this country, and that is this administration's job-killing regulatory agenda.

My goal in the Senate is to promote policies that create jobs. With my home State of Nevada leading the Nation in unemployment, I do not believe the private sector is doing just fine, and I support commonsense policies that give our job creators the necessary tools to provide for long-term economic growth.

Under the current administration, they seem bent upon issuing regulation after regulation that threatens existing jobs and preventing new ones from being created. As I have stated before, you cannot be projobs and antibusiness at the same time.

With unemployment at 11.7 percent in Nevada--and it continues to lead the Nation in unemployment--the only things as scarce as jobs in Nevada are private property and water. Roughly 87 percent of Nevada is controlled by the Federal Government, and the remaining 13 percent is heavily regulated by the Federal Government also. Nevada is also one of the driest States in the Nation. Because of this, water is a very precious commodity.

As we debate the farm bill, I am proud to join with some of my colleagues in their efforts to provide some much needed regulatory relief for American farmers in rural America. However, the latest efforts by this administration go well beyond the agricultural sector.

For years there has been a concerted effort to expand the regulatory reach over water in this country. After years of failed attempts to legislatively change the scope of regulatory authority over water, the EPA is now trying to overturn both congressional intent and multiple Supreme Court decisions to further their goal of overregulation.

To put it into context, if this regulation were enacted, it would give the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers the ability to regulate irrigation ditches, large mud puddles, or anything that contains standing water, regardless of whether it is permanent, seasonal, or manmade. Never before under the Clean Water Act have Federal regulations extended this far. This was not the intent of Congress when writing the Clean Water Act, and Congress has repeatedly rejected any legislative effort to alter the existing law.

More disturbing, the administration has bypassed public outreach and has
neglected to consider the economic impact of their proposed action. This is in addition to ignoring the fact that the Supreme Court twice affirmed the limits of the Federal authority under the Clean Water Act. But apparently the EPA believes it does not have to adhere to laws of the land.

Expanding the Federal regulatory overreach into water also infringes on private property rights. It stops investments and development and infrastructure projects, including housing, schools, hospitals, roads, highways, agriculture, and energy. In my home State, this regulation will hurt farming, ranching, mining, and construction--the same middle-class, blue-collar jobs this administration claims to care about.

In an already struggling economy, we cannot afford to create additional regulatory barriers that will cost jobs and prevent future economic growth. That is why Senators BARRASSO, INHOFE, SESSIONS, and I have offered an amendment to the farm bill, as well as a stand-alone piece of legislation that would preserve the current definition of waters of the United States. The Preserve the Waters of the United States Act is simply straightforward legislation that would preserve the current definition of Federal waters as well as uphold private property rights.

Opposition to this legislation has been disingenuous. It is ridiculous to assert that supporters of this important legislation are opposed to clean water. What I am opposed to is the Federal Government continuing its overreach and further hurting our economy and jeopardizing personal property rights and States rights. I am opposed to giving Washington bureaucrats the authority to regulate your backyard. And I am opposed to this administration using a closed-door process to issue job-killing regulations that have become far too common.

I had hoped for a vote on this amendment that will allow the Senate to make a clear choice between jobs and an extreme environmental agenda. Unfortunately, the amendment process has once again broken down, and we will not have the ability to openly debate this important issue.

I encourage my colleagues to support the Preserve the Waters of the United States Act and show their constituents that they stand with job creators. There is a vast and diverse coalition of support for our efforts to limit the Federal Government's overreach. It includes local governments, municipalities, manufacturers, small businesses, and many more.

As an outdoorsman, I am committed to good stewardship of our natural resources and believe that we do not have to choose between a healthy environment and economic prosperity. The Preserve the Waters of the United States Act is a commonsense solution that will prevent jobs from being destroyed and keep private property rights from being further eroded by this Federal Government. I respectfully urge all of my colleagues to support this legislation and bring it to a vote.

Mr. President, I yield the floor, and I suggest the absence of a quorum.


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