In advance of the inauguration of President Trump, the new Republican House of Representatives voted to strengthen the ability of Congress to strike down new federal regulations like those imposed by the Obama Administration in its waning days.
The House passed two bills as soon as it got back to work in January. Both require Senate approval and Trump’s signature before becoming law.
Called the Midnight Rules Act, the first bill would allow Congress to invalidate rules in bulk that passed in the final year of a presidential term.
The second bill, appropriately named the Regulations From the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act, requires that any regulation issued by any administration that have an annual economic impact of more than $100 million must come before Congress for a vote of approval.
Republican leaders said that among the first rules to be pulled back would be the new overtime pay regulation that was stayed days before it went into effect late last year by the order of a federal court.
At the end of September, the House passed a bill by 246-177 to delay implementation of the rule by six months, although that legislation didn’t go anywhere at that time in the face of a veto threat by President Obama (AA, 10-15-16, P. 2).
In 1996 a Republican Congress passed the Congressional Review Act, also designed to allow legislators to stem regulations deemed excessive.
Under that law “only one regulation has ever been repealed,” pointed out Rep, Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who had introduced the Midnight Rules Act.
“It’s been 16 years and the few that will likely be considered under this act and underlying law will be just that, a relatively few regulations that are believed to be unnecessary on which the House, Senate and President concur,” he said.