COLUMN: Block Last Minute Federal Regulations

November 22, 2016
Weekly Column and Op-Ed

Voters’ selection of Donald J. Trump as president, as well as Republican congressional majorities, sends a strong signal that Americans are ready for a dramatic shift in their government. Under the Obama Administration, we have seen unprecedented federal power grabs, including an attempt to tell farmers how they can use their own cropland through the “Waters of the United States" (WOTUS) rule. We have seen a flood of regulations, which came at a heavy cost to Americans: in 2015 alone, government regulations totaled $1.89 trillion in lost productivity and growth. On November 8th, Americans clearly rejected one-size-fits-all, top-down policies that have been tried time and again under President Obama. A unified Republican government is a historic opportunity to restore limited government and rule of, by, and for the people. A renewal of the principles of the rule of law – rather than the rule of federal mandates – and the separation of powers will restore our founders’ intent of governing with the consent of the governed.

Before a new government is sworn in this January, it is imperative that the Obama Administration listen to the American people rather than move forward with any potential “midnight regulations.” Midnight regulations are typically rushed out by an outgoing administration during the lame duck period when the public’s attention is elsewhere during the holiday season. A law called the Congressional Review Act (CRA) has been in place since 1996, and it allows Congress to disapprove midnight rules. There is a catch, however. Currently, CRA resolutions can only disapprove of one rule at a time. This loophole would allow the outgoing administration to “flood the zone” with regulations to overwhelm any congressional response under CRA.

Midnight rules are the kind of last-minute rulemaking that simply defies the message that Americans just sent through the ballot box. Last week, I supported House passage of H.R. 5982, the Midnight Rules Relief Act, which would institute common sense reforms by amending the CRA to allow disapproval of multiple midnight rules to be passed by the incoming Congress. The bill establishes a streamlined process by which Congress can respond to a flurry of last-minute rulemaking. The new legislation would also be a tool to discourage any administration from trying to push through unpopular rules while avoiding accountability and public scrutiny.

Relief from burdensome federal regulations will allow breathing room for the private sector from job-killing rules, while at the same time ensuring that Congress maintains its proper role as the branch of government responsible for legislation. It is time to stop abusive midnight rules and restore the limits on the executive branch outlined in our Constitution.