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 ClintonThree legal scholars say Trump should be impeached; one thinks otherwise Report: Barr attorney can't provide evidence Trump was set up by DOJ Jayapal pushes back on Gaetz's questioning of impeachment witness donations to Democrats 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.

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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 - Dem impeachment report highlights phone records Republicans raise concerns over Trump pardoning service members Pressure grows on House GOP leaders to hold line ahead of impeachment trial MORE (Alaska) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSenate confirms Trump pick labeled 'not qualified' by American Bar Association Republicans raise concerns over Trump pardoning service members Collins opposes Trump's district court pick MORE (Maine) — voted with Democrats. In the House, two Republicans voted against the resolution.

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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 BeutlerGOP lawmakers offer new election security measure GOP group calls out five House Republicans to speak up on Ukraine Dems push to revive Congress' tech office 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 PortmanSenators sound alarm on dangers of ransomware attacks after briefing Senate roundtable showcases importance and needs of women entrepreneurs Impeachment will make some Senate Republicans squirm MORE (Ohio), and Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerRNC says ex-Trump ambassador nominee's efforts 'to link future contributions to an official action' were 'inappropriate' Lindsey Graham basks in the impeachment spotlight The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Nareit — White House cheers Republicans for storming impeachment hearing 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.