WASHINGTON – During Barack Obama’s eight years in the White House, congressional Republicans frequently decried what they saw as regulatory overreach by his administration.
For years the GOP would pass bill after bill trying to nullify some of Obama’s most prominent executive rules, from climate standards to conflict of interest regulations for financial planners, but each effort was met with a veto threat.
Now with Obama gone and a friendly face in the White House, Republicans on Capitol Hill are digging deep into the playbook of former House Speaker and Georgia lawmaker Newt Gingrich to retroactively kill as many leftover policies as they can from the 44th president.
They’re planning to use a procedure Gingrich created in the 1990s that allows Congress to fast-track the repeal of recent federal regulations without the threat of a filibuster in the Senate. Even better for them, once it’s signed by the president agencies are permanently blocked from implementing similar rules in the future.
The House has plans in the works to use such ‘resolutions of disapproval’ to gut five Obama-era rules this week, and GOP leaders say to expect more of the same in the near future.
On the chopping block this week is a rule limiting mining pollution near streams that has long been on the coal industry’s hit list. Ditto for a regulation long-despised by Republicans and gun rights advocates that directs the Social Security Administration to report certain people receiving monthly disability payments to a national background check system for firearms.
It’s the first in a blitz to void as many of Obama’s environmental and labor regulations as possible, sidelining Senate Democrats who could typically filibuster such legislation.
Members of Congress have a brief window of 60 legislative days to gut a regulation after it’s finalized. Researchers generally estimate that lawmakers will be able to quash rules implemented as far back as June 2016, but a new interpretation making the rounds is that members of Congress may be able to reach back much further.
The tool has only been successfully used once (why would a sitting president let Congress kill one of his own rules?), but with President Donald Trump in power Republicans are hopeful he’ll be more than happy to cancel out as much of Obama’s regulatory legacy as possible.