Some Republicans defect on repealing Obama rules

Some Republicans defect on repealing Obama rules
© Greg Nash

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) has voted against repealing eight Obama-era regulations, more than any other Republican in the House. 

Ros-Lehtinen hails from a district that Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonMueller recommends Papadopoulos be sentenced to up to 6 months in prison Poll: Dem opponent leads Scott Walker by 5 points Cuomo fires back at Trump: 'America is great because it rejects your hate-filled agenda' MORE won by nearly 20 points last year, and recently came out strongly against the GOP’s plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare.

But she isn’t alone in defecting on some of the regulatory votes.

Thirty-nine Republicans have crossed the aisle on at least one vote this year to overturn regulations under the Congressional Review Act (CRA), according to an analysis by The Hill.

Second to Ros-Lehtinen, Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa.) and Chris Smith (N.J.) have each voted to protect five Obama-era regulations. Meanwhile, four Senate Republicans have also crossed party lines on at least one of the votes.

Many of the Republicans who have defected on the votes come from swing states or liberal-leaning states.

The obscure Congressional Review Act has empowered Republicans to scrap nearly a dozen regulations from late in Obama’s term. The resolutions cannot be filibustered in the Senate, allowing the GOP to overcome Democratic opposition.

The spotlight turned to the regulatory resolutions on Thursday when Vice President Pence was forced to cast the deciding vote on repealing an Obama regulation that banned states from defunding abortion providers.

Pence broke a 50-50 tie on the resolution after two Republicans — Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiThe Hill's Morning Report: Dems have a majority in the Senate (this week) Senate gets to work in August — but many don’t show up Trump nominee won't say if he supports funding agency he was selected to run MORE (Alaska) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsWhite House weighs clawing back State, foreign aid funding The Hill's Morning Report: Dems have a majority in the Senate (this week) Overnight Defense: Pompeo creates 'action group' for Iran policy | Trump escalates intel feud | Report pegs military parade cost at M MORE (Maine) — voted with Democrats. In the House, two Republicans voted against the resolution.

The lawmakers

The Hill counted at least 72 Republican votes against overturning Obama-era rules this year, with several Republicans voting multiple times to keep regulations in place. 

The defections show that, despite the broad consensus in the GOP about the importance of scaling back federal regulations, there are some regulations that Republican lawmakers are willing to break with their party to support.     

Similarly, a handful of Democrats have broken with their party to vote with Republicans to repeal various regulations from the Obama administration, according to a separate analysis by The Hill.

Among Republicans, Reps. David Reichert (Wash.) and Frank LoBiondo (N.J.) have each voted to keep four Obama rules.

Five other GOP lawmakers — Reps. John Faso (N.Y.), Mark Sanford (S.C.), Pete King (N.Y.), Daniel Donovan (N.Y.), Walter Jones (N.C.) — have voted to protect at least three regulations. 

And four Republican members — Reps. Carlos Curbelo (Fla.), Elise Stefanik (N.Y.), Patrick Meehan (Pa.), and Jaime Herrera BeutlerJaime Lynn Herrera BeutlerWashington’s Dem governor invites Trump to come campaign for GOP candidates Dems see wider path to House after tight Ohio race Record numbers of women nominated for governor, Congress MORE (Wash.) — each voted against two CRAs scrapping Obama rules.

In the Senate, Collins voted to keep two regulations, one aimed at protecting streams and another aimed at protecting funding for abortion providers.

Three other GOP senators — Murkowski, Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanSenate panel spars with Trump administration over treatment of unaccompanied immigrant children Senate study: Trump hasn’t provided adequate support to detained migrant children Senators introduce bill to change process to levy national security tariffs MORE (Ohio), and Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerSen. Warner to introduce amendment limiting Trump’s ability to revoke security clearances White House weighs clawing back State, foreign aid funding Rand Paul to ask Trump to lift sanctions on Russian leaders MORE (Tenn.) — have voted to protect one Obama-era regulation. 

Twenty-one House Republicans have voted against one of the regulatory resolutions.

The resolutions 

On four separate occasions, the number of Republicans voting to protect Obama-era regulations has reached double digits. 

Fifteen House Republicans — the most defections for any CRA so far — voted against overturning an Internet privacy rule that had blocked telecom companies from selling the online search histories of customers without their consent. The repeal of that rule has sparked a backlash this week. 

Eleven Republicans, meanwhile, crossed party lines to vote against repealing emissions limits on oil and gas companies operating on public lands. The House passed the CRA in February, but the Senate has yet to take it up, with several Senate Republicans reportedly opposed.

Other CRAs that have seen significant Republican defections include a rule to protect bears in Alaska’s national wildlife refuges; a rule requiring companies to post records online of workplace injuries and illnesses; and a rule creating disclosure requirements for oil companies operating in foreign countries.

Congressional Republicans also repealed the Obama administration’s so-called “blacklisting rule,” which forced federal contractors to report workplace safety violations and wage theft when applying to do business with the government. 

Only one Republican voted against overturning that rule: Ros-Lehtinen.