Home / Blog / Article


April 19 2017

Not Done Rolling Back Washington’s Red Tape Yet

by Patrice L. Onwuka

Congress working with the Trump Administration has been on a crusade to roll back regulations that are harmful to our economy and an overreach into our lives. Their biggest tool to achieve it has been the Congressional Review Act (CRA) and while it seems the window to use it is rapidly closing, new insights into the law’s scope opens up even more opportunities to bring accountability to the regulatory regime in Washington.

The CRA –pegged by the media as an obscure federal law—which allows Congress to reject rules in a majority vote within 60 legislative days of publication, has been used at least 13 times this year to repeal regulations for the coal industry, mining, teacher-training mandates, and more.

While the White House and Senate Republicans have said the clock is running out on the CRA’s 60-day review period – expected to end next month, Wall Street Journal’s Kimberley Strassel explains that the CRA applies to regulations that federal agencies neglected or refused to report to Congress as they were supposed to. This flouting of the regulatory process by Obama-appointed bureaucrats could lead to the very undoing of their efforts. Furthermore, once dismantled those job-killing and freedom-limiting regulations can’t come back again.

The Wall Street Journal video interviewed one of the architects of the CRA, Pacific Legal Foundation DC Executive Director Todd Gaziano, explains that there are hundreds of rules that were never submitted going back years which Congress can apply the CRA to.

We were also reminded about this opportunity earlier in the week in another WSJ piece:

The Administration could require agencies to work up lists of rules that were not properly reported, and send them up for rejection. Bonus: If Congress disproves a rule, the CRA stipulates that an agency cannot issue the same regulation again. That is much more powerful than perennial blue-ribbon regulatory commissions or a pledge to identify two old regulations to replace for every new one, which usually achieve less than advertised.

Kimberley Strassel opines that it may be politically unpopular in some cases, but the point is to be accountable:

The entire point of the CRA was to help legislators rein in administrations that ignored statutes and the will of Congress. Few White House occupants ever showed more contempt for the law and lawmakers than Mr. Obama. Republicans if anything should take pride in using a duly passed statue to dispose of his wayward regulatory regime. It’d be a fitting and just end to Mr. Obama’s abuse of authority—and one of the better investments of time this Congress could ever make

If Congress continues to use the CRA it would be a welcome injection of energy into the efforts already underway to roll back the Obama legacy of government expansion at the retraction of economic freedom and personal liberty.

The Pacific Legal Foundation’s project Red Tape Rollback, of which IWF is a partner, has more on the CRA including a database of unreported regulations of those never submitted to Congress or the Government Accountability Office. A quick perusal turns up rules on gun sales, protecting the sage grouse, and housing rules.

We look forward to keeping the momentum going on this regulatory repeal. We expect that the impacts will stimulate economic growth and yield positive impacts for American families, businesses, and workers.

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
Follow us