The U.S. House of
Representatives passed legislation on Wednesday giving Congress the
power to kill dozens of recently enacted rules in one fell swoop, as
Republicans charged ahead on their campaign to strip down federal
It was the
second time the Republican-dominated chamber took up legislation
blocking “midnight rules,” those rolled out at the close of a
president’s term. But the previous bill, introduced in November, had
faced a certain veto from President Barack Obama, a Democrat.
On its second day back in session, the House
passed the bill on a vote of 238 to 184. The Senate is expected to soon
consider companion legislation, which could face a harder time because
it would need eight votes from Democrats.
Under a law known as the Congressional Review
Act, Congress has the right to review regulations for a certain period
of time after they are issued. That means any federal regulation
approved since May could be voided by the Republican-led Congress once
President-elect Donald Trump moves into the White House and can sign off
on their disapproval.
takes only a simple majority of both chambers to reverse a rule, giving
Senate Democrats little power to block a vote with a filibuster.
disapproving each regulation separately could span days, Republicans
would like to simply vote once to end a variety of new rules on energy,
the environment, transportation, banking, finance, education and media
Wall Street regulations inspired by the 2007-09 financial crisis have
only recently taken final form or are on the cusp of completion, putting
them in the disapproval line of fire. That includes two pending rules
on payday lending and mandatory arbitration clauses in contracts – both
of which have raised Republican ire.
outgoing administrations are no longer accountable to the voters, they
are much more prone to issue midnight regulations that fly in the face
of the electoral mandate the voters just gave the new, incoming
administration,” said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte
before the vote. “Waves of midnight rules can also be very hard for
Congress or a new administration to check adequately.”
Cutting down regulation was a near-constant
theme in Republican political campaigns last year, and is part of House
Speaker Paul Ryan’s “Better Way” agenda. The House is also expected to
consider soon legislation that would require a congressional vote of
approval for any new regulation.