Anti-Obama-regs bill moves closer to floor vote

Legislation to block the Obama administration from issuing regulations finalized in May or later moved a step closer to a House vote on Wednesday.

The House Judiciary Committee in a 15-5 party-line vote approved the Midnight Rules Relief Act, which Republicans say would give Congress more power to stop President Obama from completing last-minute regulations.

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Now, the Congressional Review Act allows Congress to overturn a regulation by approving a resolution within 60 days of it being finalized.

The GOP bill would change that law to allow Congress to overturn, in one vote, all rules finalized by the president in last 60 days of the congressional session.

Given this year’s abbreviated schedule, that means Congress could vote to overturn every Obama regulation finalized after May of this year if the bill becomes law.

Democrats slammed the legislation, saying it goes too far and the House has already approved a bill that would put a moratorium on regulations finalized after the presidential election.

“This is another unfounded and reckless attempt to block the implementation of critical laws by the Republican majority,” Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) said during the committee markup.

Because the bill allows a number of rules to be overturned at once, Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), the panel’s ranking member, expressed concerns that good regulations would be tossed out with those that lawmakers find objectionable.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), said Conyers had a point. But he argued there was no reason for Congress to limit its authority.

“I do not reject the ranking member's concern that we could reject some perfectly good rules,” Issa said in response to Conyers. “On the other hand, why would we limit our ability to consider them as we currently do?”

The committee voted down an amendment offered by Conyers that would have exempted rules issued in response to an imminent threat to health or safety.

Lawmakers also rejected an amendment from Johnson to exempt rules proposed more than three years before they were finalized.