Top Republican urges regulators to back off

A top Republican is urging the Obama administration to halt implementation of controversial regulations, including the Labor Department’s overtime rule.

In letters to the Labor Department, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonWhistleblower retaliation: Stop confusing unlawful attacks with politics Congress looks to strengthen hand in State Department following impeachment Senate braces for fight over impeachment whistleblower testimony MORE (R-Wis.) said there is no point to enforcing rules that Trump plans to overturn with the help of Congress.

Johnson’s letters single out of the Labor Department’s overtime and fiduciary rules; the EPA’s clean power plan and waters of the United States standard; and the FDA’s electronic cigarettes rules.


“Given the substantial likelihood that this burdensome regulation will be undone, I urge the Labor Department to cease implementation of the regulation immediately to spare small businesses and industry the unnecessary and avoidable compliance costs that they currently face,” Johnson wrote to Labor Secretary Tom Perez. 

President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump suggests Sotomayor, Ginsburg should have to recuse themselves on 'Trump related' cases Sanders says idea he can't work with Republicans is 'total nonsense' Sanders releases list of how to pay for his proposals MORE has signaled his intent to roll back a number of rules from the Obama administration. Some of the executive orders he can overturn unilaterally, but he will need help from Congress in other cases.

The Congressional Review Act allows lawmakers to overturn new regulations they dislike with a simple majority vote in both chambers. Republicans may turn to this measure once Trump takes office, nullifying midnight rules that are pushed through at the end of the Obama administration.

Regulators should “acknowledge the reality of the situation,” said Johnson, the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

“On Nov. 8, the American people voiced their disapproval of a federal government run by regulation and executive fiat,” Johnson wrote.


“The incoming administration and the 115th Congress will likely re-examine and unwind burdensome regulations imposed by the Obama administration,” he added.

A federal judge last week temporarily blocked the overtime rule from going into effect on Dec. 1. It would require companies to pay time and a half to an additional 4 million employees when they work more than 40 hours in a week.

Under the fiduciary rule, financial advisers must provide investors with retirement advice that serves their best interest, but critics like Johnson suggest it will “reduce access to investment advice for many Americans.”

In the letter to the FDA, Johnson urged the agency to “spare the growing e-cigarette industry,” suggesting the new deeming rule could “eliminate an entire nascent industry.”

While Johnson warned against the “enormous costs” posed by regulations such as the Clean Power Plan and waters of the United States, in a letter to EPA administrator Gina McCarthyRegina (Gina) McCarthyOvernight Energy: Trump budget slashes EPA funding | International hunting council disbands amid lawsuit | Bill targets single-use plastics Trump budget slashes EPA funding, environmental programs Overnight Energy: Trump credits economic progress to environmental rollbacks | Vote to subpoena Interior delayed by prayer breakfast | Dems hit agency for delaying energy efficiency funds MORE.

“A number of rules finalized by the Environmental Protection Agency exemplify the type of regulatory overreach that Americans rejected,” Johnson wrote.