Congress Pushes Back Against Midnight Regulations

Last month, Republicans in the House of Representatives sent a letter to the federal heads of President Obama’s regulatory agencies calling for an end to all new rulemaking until President-elect Trump is sworn into office. The House backed up their letter a few days later by passing the Midnight Rules Relief Act of 2016 (H.R. 5982) by a vote of 240-179.

This bill expands the scope of the Congressional Review Act to empower Congress to disapprove multiple regulatory agency rules all at once, rather than one at a time which is the case under current law.

If the Midnight Rules Relief Act becomes law, Congress would have the power to prevent a long list of rules from being implementation dating back to 60 legislative days before the end of any legislative session. For this year, that means Congress could disapprove a total of 180 rules going back to the end of May 30, 2016. 48 of these rules are major rules costing $100 million or more in new, annually recurring regulatory costs.

Many in the business community are hoping the bill becomes law since they incur most of the costs associated with federal regulations. Researchers in regulatory policy at the Heritage Foundation estimate that the net annual cost of all major rules under the Obama Administration alone will total $108 billion by January 20, 2016.

If Senate Democrats and President Obama refuse to pass the bill, Congress could try again under a new administration or target specific rules, such as the overtime rule, one at a time. President Trump could also resend many of the executive orders implemented under the Obama administration. Regardless of what happens, it’s clear that U.S. businesses and our economy as a whole desperately need significant regulatory relief. It’ now up to a unified Republican government to get the job done.

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