The Republican-majority House of Representatives passed legislation on Wednesday, January 4, 2017 stating that any federal regulations approved since May 2016 could be made null and void after president-elect Donald Trump assumes office.
Last-minute regulations approved by a president near the end of his term in office are called midnight rules.
What congressmen have approved is a shotgun approach, whereby only one majority vote would be needed to repeal any or all of these recent regulations — provided Donald Trump gave his official approval as president.
Reuters reports (emphases mine):
Under a law known as the Congressional Review Act, Congress has the right to review regulations for a certain period of time after they are issued. That means any federal regulation approved since May could be voided by the Republican-led Congress once President-elect Donald Trump moves into the White House and can sign off on their disapproval.
On its second day back in session, the House passed the bill on a vote of 238 to 184. The Senate is expected to soon consider companion legislation, which could face a harder time because it would need eight votes from Democrats.
It takes only a simple majority of both chambers to reverse a rule, giving Senate Democrats little power to block a vote with a filibuster.
Those on the Left — including Democrats and the media — will say that the Republicans are putting Americans at risk by rolling back Obama administration regulations on energy, the environment, transportation, banking, finance, education and media ownership. In fact, another Reuters report states that Democrat legislators:
acknowledge they lack the votes needed to stop repeal legislation being pushed by Republicans, who will control the White House and both chambers of Congress when Trump takes office. But they are warning of the risks of the repeal legislation in hopes of spurring a public backlash against it.
This negative campaign will centre around Obamacare:
The emerging Democratic strategy is to warn that Republicans risk throwing the entire U.S. healthcare system into chaos by moving to dismantle the 2010 Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, without a plan to replace it.
The narrative that has been circulating for several days at least is that people will be left uninsured overnight. Trump said that would not happen. He pledged during his campaign that a new health insurance system would be developed which would give people a choice. It won’t be done overnight.
Suddenly leaving millions of Americans uninsured for health would not make sense and would create chaos for everyone, the sick and health providers alike. It’s not going to happen, so don’t believe any hype appearing in the media over the next few weeks.
See and hear what Mike Pence had to say on January 4 about an ‘orderly transition’ regarding the future of health care (5:00 in):
Going back to the first Reuters article, there are two points to be made in defence of this bill.
First, some of these new regulations hark back to circumstances during Obama’s first term and were finalised only within the last several months:
Many Wall Street regulations inspired by the 2007-09 financial crisis have only recently taken final form or are on the cusp of completion, putting them in the disapproval line of fire. That includes two pending rules on payday lending and mandatory arbitration clauses in contracts – both of which have raised Republican ire.
Secondly, as House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte pointed out:
Because outgoing administrations are no longer accountable to the voters, they are much more prone to issue midnight regulations that fly in the face of the electoral mandate the voters just gave the new, incoming administration. Waves of midnight rules can also be very hard for Congress or a new administration to check adequately.
As Zero Hedge points out, this measure could whittle down Obama’s legacy considerably.
Sounds like a great start to 2017.