Week ahead: More Obama energy, labor rules head to the chopping block

Week ahead: More Obama energy, labor rules head to the chopping block
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Republicans are pressing ahead with efforts to roll back a slew of Obama-era rules in the week ahead.

GOP lawmakers have been using the Congressional Review Act to block a number of rules from the former administration. The law allows Congress to repeal rules finalized within 60 legislative days with just a simple majority.

Up next on the GOP target list are a Labor Department rule related to drug testing requirements for people receiving unemployment benefits, as well as Education Department rules on teacher preparation and accountability standards.

Another rule on the chopping block in the days ahead is a Bureau of Land Management rule intended to reorganize the agency's natural resources planning.


Conservatives say the rule would give the agency too much power over the large amounts of federally owned land in the West. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) has offered a resolution to undo the "BLM Planning 2.0" rule.

Republicans have hit the ground running with their effort to undo Obama rules.

In recent days, both the House and Senate voted to repeal a rule intended to protect streams from coal mining. Critics, though, said the rule would have put the coal industry out of business.

The Interior stream protection rule could be the first regulation since 2001 to be repealed through the CRA, and only the second in history. President Trump is expected to sign it when it hits his desk.

House lawmakers also voted to roll back a Securities and Exchange Commission rule toughening disclosure standards for oil and gas companies, the so-called Labor "blacklisting" rule which requires federal contractors to disclose any past labor violations or alleged violations, and a Social Security Administration rule block disability recipients, including some suffering from mental illness, from owning guns.

The Senate is expected to vote on those in the coming days.

Meanwhile, Wall Street's eyes are on Trump, after he signed an executive order Friday to trim away at the Dodd-Frank financial reform law. The order directs the Treasury secretary and other top regulators to review Dodd-Frank and propose changes within 120 days.

Trump has promised an overhaul of financial regulations. On Friday, he also signed an executive order killing the Labor Department's new rules for retirement advisers.

Obama-era rules won't be the only item on lawmakers' minds in a busy week.

Republicans are also hoping to make more progress in confirming Trump's Cabinet nominees.

Senators have taken procedural votes on Betsy DeVos, Trump's education pick. And votes on attorney general nominee Sen. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsDOJ to probe Minneapolis police Garland rescinds Trump-era memo curtailing consent decrees Biden picks vocal Trump critics to lead immigration agencies MORE, Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) for Health and Human Services, and Treasury pick Steven Mnuchin are next on the docket.

Trump's nominee for Interior secretary, Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.), and his Energy pick, former Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas), have also both moved out of committee.

Zinke and Perry were largely uncontroversial, but Scott Pruitt's nomination to be EPA administrator has faced strong opposition from Dems. Republicans pushed his nomination through committee despite a Democratic boycott.

On Tuesday, the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee will vote on Trump's VA nominee David Shulkin. 

Also on Capitol Hill, on Tuesday the House Judiciary Committee will mark up the Stop Settlement Slush Funds Act. That same day, the House Science Committee will hold a hearing on "Making EPA Great Again" that plays off Trump's campaign slogan.


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