Window Closure for Republican Stealthy Assault on US Regulations

© Reuters. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) arrives at the House Republicans meeting

By Lisa Lambert and Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Time began to tick this week on a strategy that has provided American Republicans in Congress with their only notable legislative successes this year: aggressive use of an obscure American law known as the Congressional Review Act (CRA).

In his 75th day in power, President Donald Trump has yet to offer major legislation or win passage of a bill he favors, but House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy has scored numerous victories. on a small scale with your strategy.

Vice President Mike Pence told business leaders at the White House on Tuesday that Trump would sign more CRA resolutions soon and reverse a “barrage of red tape” from the administration of Democratic President Barack Obama.

Since Trump took office on January 20, McCarthy has led Congress in crafting 13 resolutions under the CRA that kill Obama-era regulations, most of which concern business interests.

Trump has enacted 11 of these into law, not only repealing the rules they targeted, but also prohibiting agencies from drafting “substantially similar” regulations in the future.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Tuesday that the number of resolutions signed over two months shows Trump is “very different” from previous presidents when it comes to rolling back regulations.

On Monday, Trump signed a CRA resolution repealing broadband privacy protections. He has also signed resolutions eliminating rules intended to expand background checks for mentally ill gun buyers, change public school assessments, and reduce coal waste runoff into streams.

Last Friday was the deadline to present new CRA resolutions on regulations enacted by the Obama administration. Now, Republicans must complete the vote on the resolutions that are already in the legislative process in mid-May.

Democrats attack the rollbacks for damaging the environment, education, and controls on Wall Street, with many saying the regulations were struck down to please big-money lobbyists.

Louise Slaughter, the senior Democrat on the Rules Committee who sends resolutions to the House floor for a vote, said in an interview “of course it benefits lobbyists.”

But he said blunders around health care and tax reform also brought CRA rulings to the fore.

“In part I think it’s because they have nothing else to do,” he said of the Republicans’ enthusiasm. “Other than that, I think it’s just another ‘take that Obama.’

UNWANTED CONSEQUENCES

McCarthy, a Californian and House Republican No. 2, saw the potential of the CRA before the election. Written in 1996 and used successfully only once prior to 2017, the law was originally intended to restore the balance of power between Congress and the federal bureaucracy. But lobbyists and lawmakers acknowledged that it could be used as a political weapon, if the stars aligned.

Under the law, resolutions only need simple majorities in each chamber to pass for the president’s signature. Thus, a party must control both the legislative and executive branches to function. The law establishes a short period of time for the introduction of disapproval resolutions: 60 legislative days after a regulation is finalized, which means that it can only be used right after a president of an opposing party leaves office.

The stars aligned on November 8, when Republicans took over the White House, the Senate and the House. For weeks, Republican lawmakers bombarded McCarthy with lists of regulations to repeal and lobbyists hatched plans. The first disapproval resolutions were presented on January 30.

In the immediate aftermath of the election, McCarthy told his party to “go through every regulation on our priority list,” he said.

“If you look at Article One of the Constitution, this is not the role of these agencies. The agencies have gotten too big,” McCarthy said in an interview with Reuters.

The first resolutions were passed, mainly because Republicans had opposed the regulations long before they were finalized. McCarthy said many lawmakers opposed the stream pollution rule that it was easy to erase from the books.

Although the CRA’s effort is waning, McCarthy’s brief campaign showed that aggressive use of the law could be successful and provided Republicans with some modest, but necessary, successes at a time when they grapple with more issues. important.

“After years of talking about cutting bureaucracy, now it’s happening,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said Tuesday. “We are reversing the Obama administration’s latest and latest regulatory attack.”