In an expected but disappointing development for housing interest groups, President Joe Biden vetoed a congressional resolution to rescind the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule under the Clean Water Act (CWA).

The veto follows bipartisan approval in the House and the Senate in opposition to the WOTUS rule. Housing interest groups, including the NAHB and the National Multifamily Housing Council (NHMC), have opposed the new WOTUS rule for months, arguing it will negatively impact affordability, cause permitting delays, and raise housing costs.

WOTUS is a threshold term intended to establish the geographic scope of federal jurisdiction under the CWA. The rule would add an additional step in the regulatory process for builders and developers, requiring them to determine whether isolated wetlands, ephemeral streams, or human-made drainage features are “federally jurisdictional.” Under the rule, a federal regulator would apply the “significant nexus test” to determine whether a feature significantly impacted the “integrity of a traditional navigable water.” The NAHB said it is “extremely” difficult to apply the significant nexus test consistently, and, in general, the rule “radically extends” areas in which builders need to get federal permits.

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