Repub­li­cans race to re­peal White House rules

The Denver Post - - DENVER & THE WEST - By Laura Lit­van

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.

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