Weekly Columns

It’s Time to Put the Pen Down, Mr. President

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Washington, November 16, 2016 | Tiffany Haverly (202-226-8072) | comments

“I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone, and I can use that pen to sign executive orders and take executive actions and administrative actions that move the ball forward. So one of the things I’m going to be talking to my Cabinet about is how do we use all the tools available to us, not just legislation, in order to advance a mission that I think unifies all Americans.”

This infamous statement made by President Obama in early 2014 made it clear that the president was determined to push his agenda through the rulemaking process, and since then we’ve seen misguided regulation after misguided regulation – from far-reaching overtime rules to attempts at unilaterally changing gun and carbon emissions laws through executive actions. Unfortunately, President Obama shows no sign of letting up, as earlier this year his administration issued some of the most aggressive rules we’ve seen during his presidency. President-elect Trump’s election underscores that Americans are ready for a change in direction in this country, and it’s time for President Obama to put the pen down. This week, the House is taking action by passing the Midnight Rules Relief Act to ensure Americans aren’t further harmed by regulations released by the Obama administration in the final months of his presidency.

For the last several years, presidential administrations and their agencies have increased the number of rules issued toward the end of their term. While it’s difficult to imagine the Obama administration overreaching any more than they already have, it’s important Congress take steps to stop what is known as “midnight rulemaking.” President-elect Trump has already vowed to walk back much of President Obama’s regulatory agenda, and if President Obama directs federal agencies to continue with aggressive rulemaking through the end of his term, job creators and the American people will be left with more uncertainty about the future of said rules.

One of the most important tools Congress has to stop executive overreach is the Congressional Review Act. The Congressional Review Act allows Congress to pass a resolution of disapproval to prevent a federal agency from implementing a rule or issuing a similar rule without Congressional approval. For example, earlier this year I introduced a Congressional Review Act challenge to the Department of Labor’s Fiduciary Rule.

Unfortunately, despite bipartisan support for updating the Fiduciary Rule in Congress, the president vetoed this resolution to move forward with his rewrite of the existing rule through executive action. I strongly believe when there is a desire in Congress to achieve something in a bipartisan way, the president – any president – has no business unilaterally moving forward. This is something President Obama did time and time again, and I hope this way of doing business will change with the new administration.

The Midnight Rules Relief Act amends the Congressional Review Act to allow Congress to undo multiple regulations at one time, so long as they were issued within the last 60 days of a president’s term. This will speed up the process of disapproving of and stopping flawed rules, since current statute requires each rule to be considered individually.

I look forward to working with President-elect Trump to get our country back on track. There is a lot of work to do, but I know we can work together to begin the long process to undoing the misguided and flawed policies of the last eight years.

Feel free to contact my office if I can be of assistance to you or your family. 
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