March 21, 2017

Congressional Record of Regulatory Relief


  • Congress has passed eight resolutions disapproving Obama-era midnight rules, saving Americans 4.2 million hours spent on paperwork and $3.7 billion.
  • The Senate will continue to provide regulatory relief as it considers additional CRA resolutions.

Congress has passed eight resolutions disapproving Obama-era midnight rules under the Congressional Review Act. These resolutions have provided Americans substantial regulatory relief. According to American Action Forum, the eight rules Congress has repealed will save Americans $3.7 billion and 4.2 million hours of paperwork. The seven resolutions below are ready for consideration.

Land CRA

Fish and Wildlife Management (Sullivan): Last August, the Fish and Wildlife Service issued a rule increasing federal control over the management of fish and wildlife in Alaska’s National Wildlife Refuges. The rule usurps Alaska’s statutory authority to manage its fish and wildlife. It deprives the state of the ability to provide residents social and economic opportunities, including the sustainable harvest of food. The rule limits opportunities for the public to participate in NWR management decisions. While the rule only applies to Alaska, FWS’ flawed interpretation sets a dangerous precedent for Washington to commandeer state authority to manage fish and wildlife in other states.

Healthcare CRA

Title X Grants (Ernst): Title X of the Public Health Service Act provides grants to states and nonprofits for family planning services. In December, the Department of Health and Human Services finalized a rule that limits Title X grant recipients’ ability to select subrecipients of grants. The rule limits states from determining how grants are distributed and is another Washington intrusion in health care. States and other local entities should have the freedom to determine the best Title X providers to serve the needs of their citizens.

Pensions CRA

State Mandated Pension Plans (Hatch): In August, the Department of Labor issued a rule on state-mandated retirement savings plans. It offers states a “safe harbor” from the protections of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act if they must mandate that employers not offering a retirement plan automatically enroll their workers in the state-run plan. Employers are prohibited from making contributions, and employees are only able to opt out. The rule does not require that the government-run plans be portable or permit workers to withdraw their savings at any time. DOL neglected to perform any analysis of whether states have the capacity to run these plans without posing a burden on taxpayers or jeopardizing participants. 

Municipality-Run Pension Plans (Hatch): In December, DOL issued a rule to expand the ERISA safe harbor previously offered for state-mandated retirement plans to also cover cities and counties. It covers any place that meets three criteria: it must have the authority under state law to require private employers’ participation; it must have a population equal to or greater than the population of the least populous state; and it cannot be within a state that has a state-mandated retirement savings program for private-sector employees.

Labor CRA

Volks Rule (Cassidy): In 2012, a federal court held that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration could not cite an employer for recordkeeping violations outside a six-month statute of limitations. This became known as the Volks Rule. In response, OSHA issued a rule last December extending liability for paperwork violations beyond the six month window set by law. The rule improperly subjects U.S. businesses to citations for paperwork violations, while doing nothing to improve worker health and safety.

Environment CRA

Waste Prevention (Barrasso): In November, the Bureau of Land Management issued a rule to regulate methane emissions from oil and gas facilities on federal and Indian lands. The rule exceeds BLM’s authority by regulating air quality, which Congress expressly vested in states and the Environmental Protection Agency. The costly rule duplicates existing regulations and ignores common-sense solutions to curb emissions, such as increasing the number of gas gathering lines for producers to process methane.

Internet CRA

Internet Privacy (Flake): Last November, the Federal Communications Commission issued a rule restricting how internet service providers handle their customers’ information. The rules place ISPs under different, stricter regulations than other internet companies handling the same information.   

Issue Tag: Senate