The United States needs more laws like it needs a bigger debt, but President Obama has until May 31 to sign a new one into existence that fishermen in Tennessee and Kentucky are going to like.

It’s just kind of odd that it’s needed at all.

Legislation was passed in the House of Representatives last Tuesday — and in the Senate on May 16 — that will put an end to plans by the Army Corps of Engineers to restrict access below its dams on the Cumberland River. The President has 10 days from Congress’ vote to sign the legislation into law and is expected to do so.

But the odd part is this: In a country that has more than a few pressing problems, the two greatest deliberative bodies on the planet — or the two biggest clown shows, depending on your point of view — had to step in and stop the unpopular idea of what amounts to one guy.

Nashville District Corps Commander Lt. Col. James DeLapp dug in his heels and said that by the end of May, barriers and signs would be in place to restrict boater access below Center Hill, Cheatham, Cordell Hull, Dale Hollow, Percy Priest and Old Laurel River, Martins Fork and Wolf Creek dams in Tennessee and Kentucky.

Boaters would have been kept 1,000 feet away from the dams not just during times of high water but 365 days a year 366 during a leap year.

DeLapp, citing a 1996 Corps policy, said anglers were going in harm’s way by getting their boats too close to the dams. His justification was the 17-year-old policy was being enforced on other Corps of Engineers tailwaters in other states and that since 1970 14 people have drowned below the dams on the Cumberland River. And some of the drownings occurred despite the victims wearing life jackets.

But fishermen, local and state officials, the Tennessee Wildlife Federation and Sen. Lamar Alexander had repeatedly said the Corps’ statistics and reasoning were a bit fuzzy.

TWF found that the Corps drowning totals included bank fishermen and the new rules would not change where, how or when anglers could fish below the dams as long as they weren’t in a boat.

The Corps originally intended to block access below the dams with cables, but had recently said it would only use buoys and signs “at first.”

It was Alexander who did the heavy lifting to get the legislation done that will undo the DeLapp’s plans.

The ranking Republican on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water, Alexander told the Corps during its annual budget request that finding money to fund its programs could be a bit dicey if, you know, something wasn’t done about these proposed restrictions.

“You are really thumbing your nose at the elected officials of the people of this country,” Alexander said to Lt. Gen. Thomas Bostic, the Corps commander, during the hearing. “You ought to be paying attention to our judgment on this, especially when so many members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have made themselves clear on this.”

It was the equivalent of saying “Nice Corps of Engineers you got there General. Be a shame if something was to happen to it.”

But Bostic defended DeLapp and threw out the drowning stats again. He said the Corps had been criticized in an inspector general’s report for not enforcing the 1996 policy on the Cumberland River.

Alexander and others agreed that when the dams are spilling water the hazards of fishing below them go way up. But since that happens only about 20 percent of the time he said it was akin to “putting the gate down over the railroad crossing 100 percent of the time: The tracks aren’t dangerous when the train’s not coming.”

Even the guy who could have represented the Corps had the restrictions been challenged in court — former U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee Jerry Martin — called the restrictions unreasonable.

But barring President Obama losing his pen — or remembering that Tennessee and Kentucky voters overwhelmingly supported the other guy last November — the brouhaha is over.

It just seems odd that it literally took an act of Congress to do it.