Columns

Blaine's Bulletin: Reining in Regulations

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Washington, February 3, 2017 | comments
A little recent history to start this week. In 1996, as part of the Contract with America, Congress passed and President Clinton signed into law the Congressional Review Act (CRA). This little known tool gives Congress the power to invalidate a rule or regulation from the executive branch within 60 days of it being issued. You may be thinking, can’t Congress pass a law to overturn a rule already? The answer is yes, but the CRA allows Congress to expedite the disapproval of regulations and also requires only a simple majority vote in the Senate.
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A little recent history to start this week. In 1996, as part of the Contract with America, Congress passed and President Clinton signed into law the Congressional Review Act (CRA). This little known tool gives Congress the power to invalidate a rule or regulation from the executive branch within 60 days of it being issued. You may be thinking, can’t Congress pass a law to overturn a rule already? The answer is yes, but the CRA allows Congress to expedite the disapproval of regulations and also requires only a simple majority vote in the Senate.

In it’s 20 year history, the CRA has only been used once successfully: to overturn a Department of Labor rule on ergonomics in 2001. We’ve used it many more times than that, but, the CRA still requires a president who is willing to sign a disapproval or a Congress that can muster a two-thirds vote. Both have proven to be elusive.

That’s about to change. We have a Congress and now a president committed to making commonsense changes to the regulatory regime that has hurt so many Missouri workers, small businesses, and families over the past eight years. This week the House voted to overturn multiple burdensome regulations issued toward the end of the Obama Administration. There are two in particular I’d like to highlight, but, if you have any questions about the rest of them, my staff and I stand ready to answer them.

Last December, the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM) released a final regulation that it is calling the “Stream Protection Rule.” It’s really just the final chapter of the Obama Administration’s war on coal. 68,000 mining jobs were lost under the Obama Administration and this rule proposes 400 new regulatory changes that will threaten one-third of the remaining coal mining workforce. In addition, OSM shut out the states which are responsible for enforcing federal mining regulations and circumvented existing regulatory success at the federal and state level.

America is blessed with an abundance of natural resources, including coal. Missourians rely on coal for 80 percent of our electricity needs and coal mining provides good paying jobs that support thousands of families across this country. We can and should have regulations to protect our environment, but we must use commonsense. This rule does not pass the commonsense test. I’m hopeful that the Senate and president will act quickly so that American miners can get back to work and American consumers can continue to have access to affordable, domestic energy.

The House also moved to overturn another Obama era rule that would infringe upon the Second Amendment rights of elderly Americans. This rule would transfer the information of many Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income beneficiaries to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). Automatically transferring this personal data  to NICS could cause NICS to take away the Second Amendment rights of many elderly Americans without any due process. I am deeply opposed to this rule and have consistently supported efforts to overturn it. I’m optimistic that the Senate and president will act swiftly on this one, too.

If all CRA actions that passed in the House this week are successful, five job-destroying regulations will be taken off the books. Given the volume of regulations issued in the closing days of the Obama Administration, there will be many more of these actions in the weeks to come.

 

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