March 21, 2017
It’s the Only Legislation of Consequence Trump Has Signed. Do You Know What It Is?
Web Users, Workers and Wildlife Are Under Attack This Week
Regular Americans have a great deal to lose if President Donald Trump’s proposals become law. In the past week, this has been illustrated most clearly through Trump’s health care plan and his proposed budget, both of which would harm regular Americans to pay back the GOP’s billionaire benefactors and corporate cronies. It is also true of Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolutions of disapproval, which are designed to do away with the safeguards that protect Americans from corporate privateers, pickpockets, polluters and predators.
But there is one crucial difference. Trump’s health care and budget proposals are still on the drawing board. In contrast, several CRA resolutions already have been signed into law, and even more will be soon. One already repealed protection would have stopped big oil companies from bribing governments at the expense of nearby communities. Another would have protected our streams from mining companies intent on dumping toxic chemicals into our irrigation and drinking water. And a third would have kept firearms out of the hands of individuals with severe mental health disabilities. Remarkably, these three CRA resolutions are the only legislation of consequence signed by the president.
Five other protections have been voted down by party lines in both chambers of Congress using the CRA and are awaiting the president’s signature to be repealed: the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces executive order, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s land use planning rule, the U.S. Department of Labor’s unemployment compensation drug testing rules and two rules from the U.S. Department of Education addressing teacher preparation standards and state accountability plans. More public protections like these will be targeted in the weeks ahead.
This week, the U.S. Senate is expected to target three additional safeguards. The Federal Communications Commission’s broadband privacy protections create clear requirements for broadband carriers to protect customers’ personal information and require carriers to notify customers in the event of a data breach. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Alaska wildlife refuges rule protects bears, wolves and other iconic animals on federal public lands to conserve natural ecosystems that benefit all Americans. And the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s recordkeeping rule clarifies that employers have an obligation to maintain accurate records of serious work-related injuries and illnesses for up to five years.
American workers, web users and wildlife enthusiasts benefit from these protections, but the GOP’s corporate donors want them gone. So Republican politicians are rushing to repeal them and hoping the public and the press will be too distracted to notice the almost daily drumbeat of deregulatory lawmaking. Corporate interests that oppose public protections spent more than $1 billion to influence Congress, a recent Public Citizen report shows.
The CRA allows Congress – by majority vote in both chambers, with limited debate and no possibility of a filibuster – to wipe out rules issued in the final six months of the previous administration. It also blocks agencies from issuing rules that are “substantially similar” without express authorization from Congress. The CRA’s expedited process for repeal stands in stark contrast to the years of resource-intensive rulemaking, comment and review that went into creating the rules in the first place.
Protections eliminated using the CRA will be extremely difficult to restore. In the meantime, the robber barons in the Trump administration and the greedy corporations bankrolling Republican campaigns will be free to abuse, exploit and discriminate against regular Americans with impunity, knowing they won’t be held accountable.
Visit RulesAtRisk.org to learn more about the CRA. Please contact any of the individuals listed above to speak with an expert.