As we’ve noted, as much as he’d like to do so President Trump can’t simply undo Obama era regulations that are already in effect. To untangle that skein of corruption he either has to enter into a new rule making process, one that could easily take years and involve court challenges, or Congress has to act. Now it seems like Congress is feeling emboldened and on the move:
President Trump made clear Wednesday his intention to sign five resolutions aimed at overturning Obama administration rules on a variety of issues, including one dealing with methane emissions released from oil and gas operations on federal land and another requiring federal contractors to self-certify that they comply with U.S. labor laws.
On Wednesday, the House passed two resolutions largely along party lines to overturn Obama-era rules. One resolution, which passed 231 to 191, would reverse new Securities and Exchange Commission requirements that oil, gas and mining companies divulge more information about business payments they make to foreign governments. A second, adopted by a vote of 228 to 194, would overturn an Interior Department regulation barring coal-mining companies from conducting any activities that could permanently pollute streams and other sources of drinking water. (ed note: notice the neutral wording)
In addition to endorsing the two rule disapprovals by the House on Wednesday, the White House endorsed overturning rules allowing the Social Security Administration to provide certain records on people with a history of mental problems for inclusion in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, as well as rules on government methane emissions and contractor labor certifications.
Speaking on the House floor Tuesday, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said the votes “targeting specific rules and stripping them from the books” would help deliver on Republicans’ pledge to drain “the swamp” in Washington.
“Every single one of these will be gone,” McCarthy vowed after listing the five regulations. “With a vote in the House, a vote in the Senate and the signature of President Trump, we’ll get rid of every one of these job-killing and destructive regulations.”
Mitch McConnell has issued a statement filled with pleasing noises:
“This Republican-led Congress is committed to fulfilling our promises to the American people. That work continues now as we consider legislation to push back against harmful regulations from the Obama Administration. On its way out the door, the Obama Administration forced nearly 40 major — and very costly — regulations on the American people. Fortunately, we now have the opportunity to work with the new president to begin bringing relief from these burdensome regulations.
“Last night, the House sent us two resolutions under the Congressional Review Act — one of the best tools at our disposal to undo these heavy-handed regulations. This afternoon the Senate will have the opportunity to pass the first of these resolutions — a measure to overturn the Stream Buffer Rule. The resolution before us now is identical to the one I introduced earlier this week, and it aims to put a stop to the former administration’s blatant attack on coal miners.
“In my home state of Kentucky and others across the nation, the Stream Buffer Rule will cause major damage to communities and threaten coal jobs. One study actually estimated that this regulation would put as many as one-third of coal-related jobs at risk. That’s why the Kentucky Coal Association called it ‘a regulation in search of a problem.’ They joined with the United Mine Workers of American and Attorneys General of 14 states on both sides of the aisle urging Congress to act. We should heed their call now and begin bringing relief to coal country.
“Today’s vote on this resolution represents a good step in that direction. Once our work is complete on this legislation, we’ll turn to another House-passed resolution that will protect American companies from being at a disadvantage when doing business overseas. Although the Securities and Exchange Commission may have had good intentions, the Resource Extraction Rule costs American public companies up to nearly $600 million annually and gives foreign owned business in Russia and China an advantage over American workers.
“We all want to increase transparency, but we should not raise costs on American businesses only to benefit their international competition. Let’s send the SEC back to the drawing board to promote transparency without the high costs or negative impacts on American businesses.
“These CRA resolutions keep the interests of American families and workers at heart. Today, we’ll continue to chip away at the regulation legacy of the Obama Administration with more CRA resolutions in the coming days as well. Let’s pass these two resolutions without delay so we can send them to the President’s desk and continue giving the power back to the people.”
This is great news all around. The next target will be some of the underlying laws themselves and an effort to reduce the regulatory parameters of federal agencies. When combined with Trump’s executive order freezing the ability of agencies to promulgate regulations we may actually see some of our eroded freedom returning.