President Trump and congressional Republicans are having some success with one of their oft-stated goals — rolling back federal regulations approved during the Obama administration. But the clock is ticking.
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In all, 11 regulations have been overturned using The Congressional Review Act, a heretofore obscure law passed by Congress in 1996. It allows lawmakers to overturn any regulation imposed during the final six months of the previous administration, with a simple majority vote in each chamber of Congress. It had only been used once previously, to overturn an ergonomics regulation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration that had been approved during the Clinton administration.
The 2016 election brought with it a perfect recipe for use of the law in the early months of the Trump administration: single-party control of both Congress and the White House, and a pro-deregulation stance following an administration that put many regulations in place.
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But there are some time limits. The deadline has already passed for Congress to introduce any new rollback proposals, and lawmakers have only a few weeks left to act on the ones now in the pipeline.
Two regulations, relating to women's health and state retirement savings plans, have been repealed by both the House and the Senate and are awaiting the president's signature.
And two more have been approved by the House but have not yet been acted on by the Senate.
The Congressional Review Act gives lawmakers 60 legislative days to repeal regulations approved in the last six months of the previous administration. So that comes out to May 9, according to one estimate. The problem for Congress is that lawmakers are now on a two-week recess, and when they return, major work lies ahead on agreeing to a spending bill for the remainder of the current fiscal year. So it’s unclear how many more regulatory repeals they will be able to squeeze in.