March 7, 2017

Restoring the People's Voice in Regulations

  • This week, the Senate is taking up additional resolutions that will strike Obama-era midnight rules under the Congressional Review Act.
  • Based on the current schedule, Congress has until May 9 to overturn regulations issued between June 13, 2016, and January 3, 2017.
  • The CRA is a bipartisan oversight tool for Congress to reclaim its policymaking authority and to rein in Washington’s out-of-control regulations.

The Senate is debating resolutions providing for disapproval of Obama-era midnight rules under the Congressional Review Act. So far, Congress has passed four CRA resolutions. While the Senate has been moving President Trump’s cabinet nominees through the confirmation process, the House of Representatives passed an additional 10 CRA resolutions the Senate may consider. These rules cover a variety of administrative actions – from the Bureau of Land Management’s federal land use plans to the Education Department’s state and local accountability rules.

a deadline for action

Obama administration rules finalized between June 13, 2016, and January 3, 2017, require a CRA resolution to be introduced by March 30 and voted on by the 60th day the Senate is in session. Based on the current schedule, that deadline is expected to be May 9.

Current Deadline for Striking 2016 Regulations

CRA Calendar Last Days 

Obama rules finalized after January 4 have separate deadlines.

DeMocRats Have Championed the CRA

Congress enacted the CRA as an oversight tool to ease the kind of regulatory burden President Obama imposed on America. The law was enacted in 1996 with Democrats and Republicans agreeing on the importance of this tool. Democrat Senator Harry Reid, a co-sponsor of the law, joined Republican Senators Ted Stevens and Don Nickles in an April 1996 statement explaining that the CRA would “help to redress the balance [between the executive and legislative branches], reclaiming for Congress some of its policymaking authority.” The Senators noted: “Rules can be surprisingly different from the expectations of Congress or the public. Congressional review gives the public the opportunity to call the attention of politically accountable, elected officials to concerns about new agency rules.”

The CRA “was legislation that I did, and it was great when we had Republican presidents ... Not so great when we had Democratic presidents. But it was fair.” Senator Harry Reid, December 8, 2016

The bill incorporating the CRA passed the Senate by unanimous consent at a time when the Senate was split: 53 Republicans to 47 Democrats. When President Bill Clinton signed the bill into law, he was running for reelection and knew the potential for his administration’s rules to be overturned under the CRA. 

Congress will continue to act

Rather than work with Congress to advance policies, President Obama chose to go it alone by pursuing an aggressive regulatory agenda through unaccountable Washington bureaucrats. His administration often acted outside congressional authority. It issued an unprecedented number of regulations that were far worse than what would have resulted from a bipartisan, open legislative debate. Congress is working to correct this overreach of executive power and give the American people relief from the burden imposed by so many costly Obama regulations.

The Senate will continue to vote on CRA resolutions this week, and President Trump will take additional action to reduce overregulation. When the deadlines to use the CRA pass, Congress will use every other tool at its disposal to repair the damage done by unjustifiable regulatory restrictions and mandates. 

Issue Tag: Senate