Regulatory Rollback

The Congressional Review Act (CRA)enacted in 1996, empowers Congress to disapprove new federal regulations by means of a filibuster-proof joint resolution. Congress has 60 session days to act on a disapproval resolution and the resolution requires presidential signature.

Under the CRA, before a rule can take effect, an agency must submit a report to each house of Congress and the Comptroller General at the Government Accountability Office (GAO).  The report must contain a copy of the rule; a statement on whether it is a major rule; and the proposed effective date of the rule.

If a joint resolution of disapproval is enacted, the CRA provides that a rule may not be issued in “substantially the same form” as the disapproved rule unless it is specifically authorized by a subsequent law. The CRA does not define what would constitute a rule that is “substantially the same.”  In addition, the CRA prohibits judicial review of any “determination, finding, action, or omission under this chapter.”

Following are major regulations written by the Obama Administration and overturned by Congress and the Trump Administration:

  • anti-corruption rule submitted by the Securities and Exchange Commission that would have required energy companies to disclose payments to foreign governments (disapproval via PL 115–4 on February 14, 2017);
  • environmental rule submitted by the Department of the Interior aimed at limiting pollutants from coal mines into local streams (disapproved via PL 115–5 on February 16, 2017);
  • public safety rule to prevent people determined to be at risk of self-harm from buying firearms (disapproved via PL 115–8 on February 28, 2017);
  • rule to improve federal contractor compliance with fair pay and worker safety laws (disapproved via PL 115–11 on March 27, 2017);
  • worker safety rule requiring employer records of worker injury and illness (disapproved via HJRes 83, signed by President on April 3, 2017)
  • broadband privacy rule requiring telecommunications carriers to inform customers about rights to opt in or opt out regarding sharing of private information and prohibiting broadband service offerings that are contingent on surrendering privacy rights (disapproved via SJRes 34, signed by President on April 3, 2017)

Relevant Reports and Resources: