Republicans race to repeal White House rules
Republicans in Congress plan to deploy a powerful tool soon after Donald Trump is inaugurated to scuttle a host of rules put in place in the last months of Barack Obama’s presidency, yet they must act quickly for the tactic to work.
A number of rules will be targeted using the Congressional Review Act, a law passed 20 years ago after Republicans took House control for the first time in four decades that provides an expedited procedure for canceling rules issued in the final months of an administration. It’s been used successfully only once, and top GOP lawmakers say they have about four months to act.
The regulations facing repeal include a measure unveiled Monday by the Obama administration to protect streams and groundwater from pollution caused by coal mining. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said hours later he’ll introduce a resolution next month to overturn a rule he called a “regulatory assault” on the coal industry in his home state of Kentucky.
Other targets include rules enacted this year that would blacklist federal contractors with labor-law violations, make it harder for companies to avoid paying some taxes, and would boost energy-efficiency standards to cut greenhouse-gas emissions.
“During just the first six years of the administration, federal regulators added an average of 81 new major regulations per year, or nearly 500 in total,” said Mike Long, a spokesman for House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California.
Congress has until early May to act, according to Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, who leads the Senate Republican Policy Committee. This month, he released a list of almost a dozen rules that Senate Republican leaders see as top targets.
The House is likely to make a rules rollback a top priority next month, although there’s no agreement yet on the details and whether each rule will need its own vote on disapproval, Long said. The Senate isn’t ready to announce a plan, said Don Stewart, spokesman for McConnell.
A fast-track provision limits Senate debate on disapproval resolutions to 10 hours, and members could agree to a shorter debate period. Still, Randy Johnson of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said a lack of time in the Senate may be the biggest challenge.