Week ahead: GOP Congress comes out of the gate with anti-regulatory push

House Republicans are coming out of the gate in the new Congress with a package of bills taking aim at the executive branch.

House Judiciary Chairman Bob GoodlatteBob GoodlatteCongressional investigations — not just special counsels — strengthen our democracy How Trump's legal immigration cuts could be a blessing to Dreamers Judiciary Committee Republicans want a second special counsel: report MORE (R-Va.) said Friday that the House Republican Conference wants regulatory reform to be a lead initiative.

"As you know that is also one of the major objectives of the new administration, so we are not losing any time getting started on this," he said.

Now in control of the new Congress, Republicans got to work quickly. 

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On Tuesday, the House passed legislation to allow Congress to repeal -- in a single vote -- any rule finalized in the last 60 legislative days. The Midnight Rules Relief Act amends the Congressional Review Act to let lawmakers bundle together multiple rules and overturn them en masse with a joint resolution of disapproval.

A day later, the House approved legislation to curb costly rules. The Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act requires the House and the Senate to pass a resolution of approval, which the president must sign within 70 legislative days, before any major regulations can take effect. It covers regulations with an estimated annual economic impact of $100 million or more.

Those bills followed the approval earlier in the week of a larger rules package that included a procedural measure to let lawmakers target the pay of federal workers. The Holman Rule allows members of Congress to amend an appropriations bill and cut the salary of an individual employee down to $1. 

Republicans say they are just getting started.

In the coming week, the House is expected to vote on a regulatory reform package of six bills that have passed the House in previous sessions of Congress. 

The package includes Goodlatte's Regulatory Accountability Act, which requires agencies to choose the lower cost rulemaking alternative when issuing new rules.

Also in the package is Rep. John Ratcliffe's (R-Texas) Separation of Powers Restoration Act. Ratcliffe's bill repeals the Chevron and Auer doctrines, which direct courts to defer to an agency's interpretation of a statute when there are challenges over ambiguous rules. 

The other bills in the package require agencies to calculate the direct, indirect and cumulative impacts of new rules on small businesses, as well as publish timely information and summaries in plain English online for proposed rules.

Another bill, introduced by Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.), would automatically block high impact rules -- those with costs over $1 billion dollars annually -- from taking effect for 60 days. It's intended to give businesses and other entities the opportunity to challenge them in court.

Republicans' anti-reg agenda is only part of what will be a busy week for Congress. Lawmakers also have a slew of confirmation hearings, with Republicans eager to have President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpAssange meets U.S. congressman, vows to prove Russia did not leak him documents A history lesson on the Confederacy for President Trump GOP senator: Trump hasn't 'changed much' since campaign MORE's nominees ready to begin work when he is sworn in.

On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold its first hearing on the confirmation of Sen. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) SessionsFBI opens tip line requesting information on Charlottesville rally Sessions rails against Chicago during visit to Miami DOJ warrant of Trump resistance site triggers alarm MORE (R-Ala.) for U.S. attorney general. 

Sessions will be back before the committee for a second hearing on Wednesday.

Hearings will also be held that day on four other Trump Cabinet nominees: Mike Pompeo for CIA director, Betsy DeVos for secretary of Education, Elaine Choa for secretary of Transportation and retired Gen. John Kelly for secretary of Homeland Security. 

 

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