GOP warns against last-minute regulations if Obama loses election

Republican leaders in Congress have warned President Obama against any attempts to pass last-minute regulations if he loses reelection this year.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) sent a letter to Obama Wednesday urging him not to pass any “midnight regulations.”

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Outgoing presidents typically leave some of their most controversial executive orders until the final days of their term to avoid an expected public backlash.

“We believe that issuing a raft of midnight regulations would be inconsistent with your January 2009 commitment to transparency and accountability in the rulemaking process,” Boehner and McConnell wrote. “Moreover, with the nation facing continued economic challenges, it would be ill-advised to issue a series of last-minute controversial or economically significant regulations that would distract a new congress and potentially a new administration from focusing on jobs and the economy.”

The president asked the Environmental Protection Agency to suspend action on an ozone rule in the summer of 2011, sparking anger among environmental groups. Some Republicans fear Obama could enact it and other regulations in the months between the election and the 2013 presidential inauguration if he loses reelection.

“Given this president’s track record of job-killing regulation, there’s a pretty broad field of stuff to be worried about,” said a senior GOP aide.

Former President Clinton enacted a flood of last-minute regulations before turning over the reins of power to Republicans in 2001. The rules included protecting 60 million acres of forest from logging and road building, lowering acceptable lead limits in paint and soil and setting minimum efficiency standards for air conditioners.

Former President George W. Bush pushed through regulations increasing the length of time truck drivers can stay on the road and changing how industrial facilities count air pollution regulations in the final days of his administration.

GOP leaders say Obama has strayed from his stated commitment to “an unprecedented level of openness in government,” which the president laid out in a January 2009 memorandum.

“Despite this purported commitment to transparency, openness and accountability, your administration has not adhered to these principles while issuing regulations,” Boehner and McConnell wrote. “Moreover, we are concerned that as we approach the end of your current term, this commitment will be further undermined by a final push to issue a set of ‘midnight regulations,’ with little opportunity for oversight.”