Jan. 30, 2017

Corporate Interests Trying to Kill Safeguards Spent $1 Billion to Influence Congress; Lawmakers Now Taking Aim at Those Regulations

Impending Mass Repeal of Regulations Represents Payback

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Corporate interests that oppose public protections spent more than $1 billion to influence Congress – which is poised to repeal numerous recently finalized safeguards, a Public Citizen analysis (PDF) shows. The Republican majority in Congress is trying to strike down recently issued regulations by deploying the Congressional Review Act (CRA), a legislative weapon leftover from Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America.

Rules in the crosshairs include consumer protections against predatory short-term, high-interest lenders, provisions for financial relief for students of for-profit colleges, energy efficiency standards for battery chargers, ceiling fans and dehumidifiers, a rule preventing methane leaks from federally managed oil and gas wells, rules prohibiting oil and gas drilling in sections of the Arctic Ocean and a rule requiring prospective federal contractors to disclose labor law violations.

The heavy hitters pushing to kill these protections include the insurance industry, the accounting industry, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, commercial banks, the oil and gas industry, the mining industry and more, according to the report (PDF), “Deregulation: Corporate Interests That Oppose Public Protections Spent More Than $1 Billion Influencing Congress with Lobbyists and Campaign Contributions.”

“To corporate lobbyists and political campaign donors, this impending mass repeal of many of the most important health, safety, environmental and fairness-promoting measures of the Obama administration represents payback,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. “To voters who believed a change of party in the executive branch would result in the people’s interests being prioritized over corporate profits, the repeals are a betrayal.” (Read Weissman's full statement.)

Added Rick Claypool, researcher and report author, “Congressional Republicans’ eager deployment of the CRA demonstrates the degree to which they are captured by self-serving corporate interests.”

Collectively, the corporate opponents of public protections documented in this report (21 rules appearing on various Republican and industry lists as potential CRA targets) have spent more than $812 million lobbying Congress over the course of one year – averaging $1.5 million per member. These regulation opponents also have spent more than $513 million toward supporting congressional election campaigns – averaging more than $950,000 per member and favoring Republican candidates by a ratio of 3-to-1.

Under the CRA, Congress has 60 legislative working days to rescind any regulation finalized after June 13, 2016, a timeline that places at risk more than 50 major public protections as well as hundreds more. Additionally, once a rule is rescinded by a CRA vote, the issuing agency is blocked from creating a “substantially similar” rule without congressional approval.

Visit RulesAtRisk.org for more information about the latest CRA threats.

###