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March 31, 2017

Deadline Passes for Introducing CRA Resolutions Targeting Obama-Era Regulatory Protections

About Two Dozen Rules Remain Targets for Repeal – Hundreds No Longer Can Be Challenged Using the CRA

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Americans are relieved to have passed an important milestone in the ongoing battle to defend health, safety, consumer and environmental protections from attacks by President Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress. The deadline for introducing resolutions of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) that target Obama-era regulatory protections elapsed on Thursday, March 30.

The CRA allows Congress – by majority vote in both chambers, with limited debate, no possibility of a filibuster and a new president’s signature – to overturn regulatory protections issued in the final six months of the previous administration. The CRA also blocks agencies from issuing “substantially similar” rules without express authorization from Congress.

So far this year, seven rules have been repealed and six are sitting on the president’s desk awaiting his signature – leaving only about two dozen rules with valid resolutions targeting them. The passing of Thursday’s deadline significantly narrows the scope of the threat posed by the CRA, which, until yesterday, could have been used by Republicans to target hundreds of rules that their corporate donors oppose (PDF) and have spent billions lobbying to repeal.

“Congressional Republicans are paying back their corporate benefactors by wiping away a vast swath of protections for health, workers, consumers and our environment,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. “The repeal of Internet privacy rules is instructive and representative, not exceptional. There is absolutely no constituency for that shameful move to let telecom companies sell and misuse personal browsing and other private information about consumers, other than the giant telecom companies.”

The CRA’s “carryover period,” which allows Congress to introduce resolutions targeting protections from the previous administration, began on Jan. 30. From that day forward, the CRA gives Congress 60 “days of continuous session” to introduce resolutions, which includes every calendar day except for those in which either chamber is in recess for more than three days. Neither chamber has been out for more than three days, as both chambers held pro forma sessions during recess. Therefore, all calendar days count as “days of continuous session.” Both chambers can continue to hold votes on CRA resolutions until the end of the carryover period, but only on resolutions that already have been introduced.

“Americans are paying the price for the corrupt and corporate-driven insider dealing that has defined the Trump administration,” said Lisa Gilbert, vice president of legislative affairs for Public Citizen. “Now we must redouble our efforts to defeat the remaining CRA resolutions, most of which target clean air standards, commonsense drilling safeguards and popular wildlife protections on behalf of oil and gas companies and other big polluters.”

“The CRA has been an unmitigated disaster for the public and a feeding frenzy for big business special interests‎,” added Amit Narang, regulatory policy advocate for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. “The law needs to be revisited, fixed or outright repealed. This Congress shouldn’t make the same mistake as previous Congresses in enacting innocuous-looking ‘regulatory reforms’ that end up allowing special interests to manipulate the regulatory system at the expense of protecting the public.”

Visit RulesAtRisk.org to learn more about the CRA.

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