In President Obama’s last year in office, Congress is continuing to use many different tactics to combat his administration’s growth-crushing agenda. One of them is called the Congressional Review Act.
Enacted in 1996 as part of Speaker Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America, the CRA requires federal agencies who implement a major rule or regulation to submit it to Congress to review the substance and impact.
A “major” rule is defined by the CRA as one that has resulted in or is likely to result in (1) an annual impact of $100 million or more on the economy; (2) a major increase in costs or prices for consumers, industries, government agencies, or geographic regions; or (3) significant adverse effects on competition between U.S. businesses and foreign businesses.
So these regulations are big. And often harmful. They’re the kind of rules that start out as fine print in Washington, and end up forcing small businesses to raise their costs, eliminate jobs, and ultimately close their doors.
The CRA paves a direct path—albeit a difficult one—for Congress to repeal these costly, harmful regulations:
- During a 60-day review period, Congress has the power to vote to disapprove of the regulation, which would nullify the new rules.
- This procedure isn’t subject to the filibuster, neutralizing the easiest way for Senate Democrats to block legislation and give cover to the White House.
- It is then up to the president to sign or veto the disapproval resolution. If the bill becomes law, the agencies cannot enforce the rule or defend it in court.
Take the EPA’s controversial Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. It’s a job-killing, growth-crushing regulation that upends the way water is managed in this country. It hamstrings the states, who have been the primary regulators of water. It’s a federal overreach beyond imagination, one that would insert the federal government into every stream, pond, and ditch in America – even on private property. That’s why the Congress passed a CRA resolution to disapprove of WOTUS, and put it on the president’s desk this week.
Unsurprisingly, the president vetoed the resolution last night, but, like repealing Obamacare, we’ve shown there is a clear path to protecting taxpayers from harmful regulations without 60 votes in the Senate. We’re also reasserting Congress’s enumerated powers, and working to make sure that this president (and the next) better respect those powers. This is another tool to check executive overreach and set the stage for correcting it with a bold, pro-growth agenda.