Yesterday was a good day.
A moving truck arrived at the White House — a sign that the Obamas are packing up and leaving. Really.
Also yesterday, the second day of the newly elected Congress, by a vote of 238-184, the GOP-majority House of Representatives passed the Midnight Rule Relief Act that enables Congress to repeal in a single vote any rule finalized in the last 60 legislative days of the Obama administration.
Lydia Wheeler reports for The Hill, Jan. 4, 2017, that if passed by the Senate and signed by President-elect Donald Trump, the Midnight Rule Relief Act (MRRA) would amend the Congressional Review Act to allow lawmakers to bundle together multiple rules and overturn them en masse with a joint resolution of disapproval.
Obama already has threatened to veto the bill if it were to make it to his desk before he leaves office.
Pouring cold water on the passage of MRRA, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), while debating the bill on the floor yesterday afternoon, said that Congress has only once, in 2001, successfully repealed a rule by way of a resolution under the Congressional Review Act because both houses and the president all have to agree on the resolution to repeal a rule. Issa gave the following rather obtuse explanation:
“All this legislation does is allow for us to dispose of one or more regulations in an expedited fashion in this body and have it seen in the same form in the Senate. It doesn’t change the underlying law. Only one regulation has ever been repealed. It’s been 16 years and the few that will likely be considered under this act and underlying law will be just that, a relatively few regulations that are believed to be unnecessary on which the House, Senate and president concur.”
That, however, didn’t stop Democrats from bitching that the Midnight Rule Relief Act would allow Congress to erase months of Obama’s regulatory agenda:
- Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) criticized Republicans for bringing the bill to the floor so soon: “I’m surprised that without hearings, without opportunity for amendment, we are now considering a measure that has this much opposition.”
- Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) — that bright bulb who, at a House Armed Services Committee in 2011, expressed his trepidation that moving 8,000 marines to Guam would tip over the island — resorted to fear mongering. He accused Republicans of wanting to undo Obama’s regulations that created 15 million jobs and protect “the health safety of welfare of Americans, little ones, elderly, workers and people who are consumers,” so as “to bring the standard of living Americans have come to enjoy to a halt.”
- The American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC), a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization that claims to represent over 200,000 businesses and advocates for federal-state policy changes for a more sustainable and socially-responsible economy, sent a letter to members of the House on Wednesday urging them to oppose the “anti-regulatory” Midnight Rule Relief Act because it would enable Congress to undo batches of rules without any consideration of their individual merits. David Levine, ASBC’s CEO and co-founder, said in a statement: “This would be like taking a chainsaw into surgery. Businesses depend on good regulations to set clear boundaries and rules for fair competition on a level playing field.”