Congress Busy Overturning Regulations

Commentary & Community

Congress Busy Overturning Regulations


Updated February 24, 2017


Congress has been very busy since it convened in early January. Even before Donald Trump was sworn in as president, members of Congress were busy writing and voting on legislation. One area is getting a lot of attention from our federal legislators – overturning regulations using the Congressional Review Act (CRA).


Not only is it unusual for Congress to target a large number of regulations to reject, but using the CRA at all is quite rare. After the Republican sweep in the 1994 election, Congress enacted the CRA in 1996 as part of the “Contract with America.” Its provisions have only been used one time prior to this year. Since January, however, the House of Representatives has considered eight resolutions that would overturn Obama Administration rules. More are on the way.


Under the CRA, a majority in Congress has the power to pass a resolution that would undo any rule issued by a federal agency issued within the prior 60 legislative days. The agency is barred from ever again issuing a regulation that is similar to the one rejected. Unlike other legislation, this resolution cannot be filibustered in the Senate. The president must sign the resolution for it to take effect.


This year is the first time when party control of Congress and the presidency coincide to make the CRA workable in any significant way. Republican President Trump took office from his Democratic predecessor, whose administration issued a variety of controversial regulations during its final year in office. Last year, members of Congress were out of town a lot, so the threshold of 60 legislative days stretches far back into 2016 to cover numerous regulations issued by the Obama Administration. President Trump has signaled that he is willing to sign regulatory rollback resolutions, so the Republican majority in Congress has an unrivaled opportunity to strike back at Obama-era rules that they don’t like.


Stay tuned and check the Regulatory Reform Tracker for weekly updates on Congress' efforts to rollback and overhaul regulations!


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