Jan. 30, 2017

Repealing Public Protections Is Payback for Corporate Cronies

Statement of Robert Weissman, President, Public Citizen

Cronyism is alive and well and thriving in President Trump’s America.

Today, Big Business gets it reward, as the extremist Republican Congress begins a monthslong effort to roll back many of the most important health, safety, environmental and fairness-promoting measures of the Obama administration.

Using the previously obscure Congressional Review Act, Congress over the next few months will be able to repeal rules issued by the Obama administration during the last six months of its tenure. Crucially, passage of binding resolutions of disapproval for these rules cannot be filibustered – meaning Republicans acting in lockstep on behalf of Big Business have the power to overturn the Obama protections.

Big Business and their Republican allies are targeting a modest but important set of measures advanced at the end of the Obama administration. A number of the rules were adopted pursuant to congressional mandate. All of the rules were adopted after extremely lengthy consideration, elaborate analysis of alternatives and review of costs and benefits.

The corporate steamroller that’s about to run over these protections has nothing to do with considered policymaking. Among the first to be flattened in the U.S. House of Representatives are measures designed to:

  • Protect streams from toxic pollution due to mountaintop removal mining;
  • Prevent the wasteful, dangerous and climate change-inducing flaring of natural gas on public lands;
  • Protect Americans from gun violence by people deemed unable to manage their affairs;
  • Ensure that government contractors abide by labor and workplace safety rules; and
  • Reduce overseas bribery and corruption in the oil, gas and mining sectors.

There is exactly one reason Congress is poised to repeal these commonsense measures: payback to corporate and ideological donors. It is no accident that three of these first targeted rules are opposed by dirty energy companies. There will be severe consequences for this pay-for-play policymaking: America will be sicker, more dangerous, less fair and more polluted.

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