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Obama Races to Regulate Before Trump Takes Reins - part 2

by Jennifer A Dlouhy
(United States)

It’s expected that moments after Trump is sworn in, his administration will place a moratorium on new regulations and pull back any others that are on their way to the Federal Register but haven’t yet been published, Dudley said. The Trump administration could also extend the effective date of rules that have been published but have not yet gone into effect, giving appointees time to get confirmed, review the rules and, possibly, chart a different course.


There’s precedent for ordering a stand down; the Obama administration did the same thing on Jan. 20, 2009.

Review Act

Top Republicans have already threatened to invoke their powers under the 20-year-old Congressional Review Act to toss rules they dislike within 60 legislative days of their enactment on a simple majority vote, without fear of filibusters.

Senator Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, said legislators would repeal at least a half dozen regulations in the week after the new Congress convenes. And House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a Republican from California, joined 21 committee chairmen in formally admonishing agencies they would take a dim view of any policymaking in the Obama administration’s waning months.

"We write to caution you against finalizing pending rules or regulations in the administration’s last days," they said in a Nov. 15 letter to agency and department heads. "Should you ignore this counsel, please be aware that we will work with our colleagues to ensure that Congress scrutinizes your actions -- and, if appropriate, overturn them."

Congressional leaders are speeding up their remaining legislative business in hopes of getting home sooner -- and ensuring more regulations are ripe for a rollback.

Congress May Leave Early in an Attempt to Thwart Overtime Rule

By wrapping up a week sooner, they’ll be able to use a resolution of disapproval to go after a Labor Department rule allowing millions more workers to collect overtime pay that was published May 23 and is set to go into effect Dec. 1.
Hundreds of other rules issued this year also would be eligible for expedited nullification under the Congressional Review Act.

Some agencies appear to be heeding lawmakers’ counsel to close up shop. After senior Republicans asked Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler to put the brakes on nearly all new regulations and actions, the agency canceled a planned vote on the rates charged for data lines used by businesses.

The agencies have no incentive to hold back, said Sam Batkins, with the American Action Forum, a think tank that favors smaller government.

"Not all of these rules will make their way into CRA resolutions of disapproval, and there’s a pretty significant chance that any one midnight regulation won’t be overturned by the next administration, so what’s the incentive to hold them?" Batkins said. "If you’re just playing the odds, obviously you should publish them."

Environmentalists are embracing that calculus and lobbying the Obama administration to go big and bold by creating national monuments and imposing new air rules.

"We’ve told the White House and Interior Department on everything -- whether it’s offshore drilling or national monuments -- to be as ambitious as possible." said Athan Manuel, director of lands protection for the Sierra Club. "Whatever they do, we’re going to have to defend it no matter what they propose, so we might as well ask for the moon."

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