President Donald Trump and Congress are using a Clinton-era law to undo a number of harmful Obama-era regulations. The president’s willingness to use the 1996 Congressional Review Act sends a signal that both the Republican-led Congress and the White House are committed to slashing the regulatory state.
“Today is a good day for American jobs,” Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said in a statement. “Over the past two months, Congress passed a series of important bills that roll back harmful Obama-era regulations. From reforming our education system to properly managing our nation’s resources, our Congressional Review Act legislation empowers states over the federal government. This will free up innovation and create jobs in the private sector.”
“This will free up innovation and create jobs in the private sector.”
The Congressional Review Act was enacted two decades ago as a part of former Speaker Newt Gingrich’s “Contract with America.” The law mandates that federal agencies responsible for implementing a major rule or regulation first present it to Congress for review. A “major rule” is one that has already created or anticipated to cause at least $100 million in economic impacts over the course of a year; spurs a major increase in costs or prices for consumers, industries, government agencies or geographic regions; or inflicts significant adverse effects on competition between American businesses and foreign corporations.
Republicans have long been dedicated to the cause of transparency especially as it concerns federal regulatory overreach. Throughout the Obama Administration, the White House’s penchant for executive branch policymaking was a source of constant controversy and tension among the three branches of government. Only the legislative branch is empowered by the Constitution to write laws.
In fact, in his last year in office, President Obama’s federal agencies added 97,110 pages to the “Federal Register,” blowing away the 2010 record total of 81,405 pages. Contained within the 2016 compilation are 3,853 new rules, 629 of which have been deemed especially significant for American small businesses.
When the Obama Administration often discovered legislative roadblocks, the president simply imposed his will through executive action. Nowhere is that more apparent than Obamacare, where thousands upon thousands of rules were issued from the Department of Health and Human Services without congressional oversight.
Republicans aim to curb future overreaches with the Congressional Review Act. With extra eyes on proposed rules, the GOP hopes lawmakers will demonstrate prudence when deciding how helpful or harmful regulations might be before they’re actually issued from federal agencies.
“There has not been nearly as much attention paid to this issue as there should have been,” Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) told The Daily Signal in February. “I think President [Ronald] Reagan focused on this, and I think President Trump is focusing more on this issue than any other president since Reagan.”
Republicans also aspire to reverse at least some of the 22,700 regulations under the previous administration. President Obama’s White House, they argue, abused executive authority in creating many of the rules it did throughout the eight years he was in office.
Despite occasional setbacks in the Obamacare repeal-and-replace strategy implementation over the past few weeks, Congressional Republicans seem to be working cooperatively with the White House to restore fiscal sanity in Washington for the benefit of the American people. The Congressional Review Act is an important step to creating pro-growth conditions so the American economy can thrive.
Ellen Carmichael is a senior writer for Opportunity Lives. Follow her on Twitter @ellencarmichael.