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Dems propose scrapping law GOP used to overturn regulations

Dems propose scrapping law GOP used to overturn regulations
© Greg Nash

Democrats are taking aim at President Trump’s power to roll back regulations.

The Sunset the CRA and Restore American Protections (SCRAP) Act introduced Tuesday by Sens. Cory Booker (N.J.) and Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallHillicon Valley: Officials warn of Chinese influence efforts | Dow drops over 800 points | Tech stocks hit hard | Google appeals B EU fine | James Murdoch may be heading for Tesla | Most Americans worried about election security For everyone’s safety, border agents must use body-worn cameras Senate Democrats increase pressure for FBI investigation of Kavanaugh MORE (N.M.) would eliminate the law that Trump and Republican lawmakers have used to repeal more than a dozen Obama-era regulations. Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) is backing identical legislation in the House.

The Congressional Review Act (CRA) makes it easier for lawmakers to repeal regulations they disapprove of from the executive branch. Under the 1996 law, Congress only needs a simple majority to rollback recently issued regulations. Federal agencies are also blocked from publishing similar rules in the future.

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The SCRAP Act would not only prevent Republicans from using this law to repeal future regulations, but it would also allow federal agencies to reinstate rules that have already been struck down under the CRA.

Before Trump, the CRA had only been successfully used once, in 2001, to repeal a Clinton-era labor rule.

Since then, Republicans have turned to the CRA to repeal 14 Obama-era regulations, hoisting the relatively obscure law into the limelight.

The rules overturned include environmental regulations like the Interior Department’s stream protection rule, internet regulations, financial rules, healthcare rules, education rules and gun restrictions.

Democrats warn Republicans are abusing their authority under the law by rolling back so many regulations.

“It’s like using a sledgehammer when a chisel is needed,” Udall said.

“The CRA never should have been passed into law, and it’s past time to repeal it,” he added.

The bill stands no chance of passing in the Republican-controlled Congress, but it is something Democrats could someday return to in the majority. 

Robert Weissman, president of the left-leaning Public Citizen, called Republicans’ use of the CRA a “corporate payback scheme.”

“If there was any doubt before, it’s now certain that the CRA must go,” he said.