Washington has been all aflutter of late over the frenetic flow of Trumpian tweeting and murky allegations involving a Russian dossier. Perhaps lost amid the constant circus music is the fact that the new president appears poised to actually get a few things done in his first weeks in office.
That’s particularly true when it comes to Barack Obama’s midnight regulatory barrage.
In a Jan. 4 letter to Mr. Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., outlined a series of actions he hopes the new president will take to overturn may of these regulations. Among them is a last-second Stream Protection Rule limiting the use of private property near small streams and wetlands. He also asked Mr. Trump to abandon a legal defense of the Obama’s constitutionally dubious Clean Power Plan, currently on hold pending a court ruling.
Sen. McConnell plans to dust off the Congressional Review Act, passed as part of the 1994 GOP Contract with America that swept Republicans into control of the U.S. House for the first time in 40 years. The act allows Congress to pass resolutions of disapproval regarding specific regulations. If the president signs the resolution, the rule becomes null and void and can’t be revived.
An outgoing Democratic president combined with the election of a GOP Congress and chief executive provides a rare opportunity to successfully employ this strategy.
And there’s plenty to be done. Mr. Obama has been nothing if not prolific when it comes to expanding the administrative state on the way out the door. Under the law, Congress could go after any regulation issued since June 13.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Clyde Wayne Crews of the Competitive Enterprise Institute told The Washington Times last November. “The Federal Register jumped up over 1,400 pages in one day. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see this year finish out at well over 90,000 pages. [Mr. Obama] has not slowed anything down.”
In addition to targeting many of the Obama regulatory sops to the green lobby — including restrictions on cow flatulence — congressional Republicans have their sights set on rules regarding overtime pay, abortion funding and banking mandates.
“We would have a new Republican government with a new Republican majority with a deregulatory bent aimed at undoing Democratic initiatives,” Sarah Binder, a senior fellow at the liberal-leaning Brookings Institution, told the Hill newspaper.
Now that would be something to tweet about.