Members of the House of Representatives voted along party lines Wednesday to make it easier to undo last-minute regulations published by President Barack Obama’s administration before President-elect Donald Trump takes the oath of office.
The House voted 235-181 to approve California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa’s Midnight Rules Relief Act, which amends the Congressional Review Act and gives Congress authority to kill blocks of new regulations issued in the last 60 days of a president’s term.
“Regulations impacting the economy, the environment, families, and our community should be done with great caution and transparency, not get rushed in last-minute on a President’s way out of office,” Issa said in a statement. “This is a good piece of legislation that will help keep this and future presidents in check.”
The Congressional Review Act already allows Congress to overturn regulations one by one, but Issa’s bill empowers Congress to nix multiple regulations with one vote. The American Action Forum estimated Obama’s “midnight” regulations could cost taxpayers up to $44 billion.
Some of Obama’s midnight regulations involve restricting methane production on public lands, imposing renewable fuel standards, protecting streams and banning new offshore oil and gas leasing.
Issa’s bill passed the House in November, but the House reintroduced it the first week of the 115th Congress. Issa is chairman of the House Committee on the Judiciary’s Subcommittee on the Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet.
Sen. Ron Johnson, the Wisconsin Republican who is chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, introduced an identical bill in the Senate. The bill has yet to pass his committee.
“All this legislation does is allow for us to dispose of one or more regulations in an expedited fashion in this body and have it seen in the same form in the Senate, nothing more than that,” Issa said Wednesday in debate on the House floor.
“Doesn’t change the underlying law. Doesn’t change the fact that the House, the Senate and a president must concur on taking back what is essentially a law — that’s what a regulation is — created by bureaucrats not elected by any of us.”
Rep. Steve Chabot, an Ohio Republican who is chairman of the House Small Business Committee, also lauded the measure, saying “Over the last eight years, the Obama administration has gone on a regulatory rampage, issuing major rules that have cost over $100 billion annually.”
Chabot added that “a disproportionate share of those enormous costs have fallen on American small businesses. It is unconscionable that the Obama Administration is using its final days in office to saddle small businesses with even more costs to pay for preserving his liberal legacy. The Midnight Rules Relief Act will help protect small businesses from further harm caused by 11th-hour Obama administration red tape.”
Conservative think tanks are also warning President-elect Donald Trump’s administration to scrutinize agencies’ “midnight litigation,” economy-hampering lawsuits the Obama administration could file against companies and industries before leaving office.