Groups clash over GOP tool to roll back regulations

Groups clash over GOP tool to roll back regulations
© The Hill

Conservative groups are pushing lawmakers to seize the opportunity to roll back Obama-era rules with the rarely used Congressional Review Act, while pro-regulatory groups are asking members to reject any resolutions to repeal critical public health and safety protections. 

The conservative political advocacy group Americans for Prosperity led a coalition of 55 groups in writing an open letter to Congress Tuesday. 

They asked lawmakers to partner with the White House and use the CRA as a tool to bring “meaningful regulatory relief to millions of Americans.”

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“Congress has an important duty to work with the Trump administration in rolling back the regulatory avalanche of the last eight years,” said the letter from groups such as FreedomWorks, Club for Growth and the Competitive Enterprise Institute. “

“Processing resolutions of disapproval under the CRA is an essential tool for this because overturning regulations via the CRA creates a permanent bar against regulators imposing substantially similar rules in the future without seeking express authorization from Congress.”

Under the CRA, Congress has 60 days to repeal a rule after it has been finalized by way of a resolution that must also be signed by the president.

In the Senate, these resolutions are essentially filibuster-proof, because they only require a simple majority vote to pass. With a Republican-led Congress and a Republican in the White House, this first time in decades the CRA could be used successfully to repeal the last administration's most contentious rules.

The unique opportunity has public health, safety and environmental groups fearing the worst. 

In a letter of their own Monday, a coalition of 125 pro-regulatory groups called on lawmakers to oppose the use of the CRA and protect important health and safety protections.

“Voters in this election did not vote for deregulation of Wall Street, more polluted air and water, inaction on climate change, unsafe workplaces, fewer protections against discrimination and unequal pay, more food safety scandals, the gutting of consumer protections, and more,” said the letter led by the Coalition for Sensible Safeguards.

“In fact, this election was a referendum on the need to hold big interests accountable. Unfortunately, using the blunt instrument of the CRA rejects the electoral message and moves in the wrong direction by rolling back and undermining public protections.”