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 ClintonTop Sanders adviser: Warren isn't competing for 'same pool of voters' Anti-Trump vets join Steyer group in pressing Democrats to impeach Trump Republicans plot comeback in New Jersey 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.

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 - Progressives, centrists clash in lively Democratic debate Senate braces for brawl over Trump's spy chief Congress kicks bipartisan energy innovation into higher gear MORE (Alaska) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsCook Political Report moves Susan Collins Senate race to 'toss up' The Hill's Morning Report — Trump and the new Israel-'squad' controversy Trump crosses new line with Omar, Tlaib, Israel move MORE (Maine) — voted with Democrats. In the House, two Republicans voted against the resolution.

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 BeutlerDems push to revive Congress' tech office Bill allowing Congress to hire Dreamers advances House fails to override Trump veto on border wall 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 PortmanSchumer blasts 'red flag' gun legislation as 'ineffective cop out' McConnell faces pressure to bring Senate back for gun legislation Shaken Portman urges support for 'red flag' laws after Ohio shooting MORE (Ohio), and Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerTrump announces, endorses ambassador to Japan's Tennessee Senate bid Meet the key Senate player in GOP fight over Saudi Arabia Trump says he's 'very happy' some GOP senators have 'gone on to greener pastures' 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.