Scott Tipton: Rolling back federal overreach
During the past several weeks, my team and I have received questions from many constituents about the Congressional Review Act. The CRA was established in 1996 and gives Congress the authority to disapprove of a regulation within 60 days of the date the regulation is finalized. Either the House or Senate can introduce a resolution of disapproval, which, when passed by a simple majority in both chambers and signed by the president, will void the regulation. If a regulation is finalized within the last 60 legislative days of a Congressional session, the 60-day time period for which a resolution of disapproval can be introduced resets in the new Congress.
Prior to the 115th Congress, the CRA had only been used successfully once, in 2001, after outgoing President Bill Clinton issued a midnight regulation — a regulation issued in the last 60 legislative days of an outgoing president’s term — called the Ergonomics Rule. President George W. Bush signed a congressional resolution to void the Ergonomics Rule on March 20, 2001.
Many of our callers during the past few weeks have asked why Congress has used the CRA so many times this year. The answer is because we are in a unique position to roll back the federal overreach that grew out of control under the Obama administration. In an effort to finalize as many regulations as possible before the end of the 114th Congress, the Obama administration pushed through many ill-conceived regulations within the last 60 legislative days of the session. The 60-day window for voiding these regulations reset at the beginning of the 115th Congress.
So far this year, Congress has sent President Donald Trump 11 resolutions of disapproval to roll back unnecessary, overly burdensome federal regulations. To date, he has signed seven of these resolutions, voiding a few of the regulations constituents submitted to my Cut The Code Project.
You may remember that, at the end of the 114th Congress, I asked constituents to help me cut down the 75,000 page-long code of federal regulations by sharing their experiences with unnecessarily burdensome or downright ridiculous federal regulations. I heard from constituents on a variety of issues, and some of these issues have now been addressed through the CRA.
For example, on Feb. 16, the president signed a resolution of disapproval to void the Department of the Interior’s stream buffer rule, which could have eliminated one-third of U.S. coal mining jobs. When the DOI initially proposed the stream buffer rule, it was only supposed to apply to coal mines in Appalachian states. According to the department’s own investigative report, nearly all coal mines across the country have no off-site impacts. Yet, despite this study and the fact that the rule was originally intended to apply to a handful of mines, the DOI finalized 1,640-pages of regulations that would have applied to every coal mine in the country.
Another example is the Bureau of Land Management’s Planning 2.0 rule. On March 27, the president delivered a big victory to the West by signing a resolution that voids the Planning 2.0 rule. The Planning 2.0 rule would have significantly altered the way the BLM manages federal land, diminishing the role state and local governments — whose communities are most directly impacted — have historically played in the planning process. The rule would have increasingly shifted decision-making ability from those local communities and their local BLM officials to unelected officials in Washington. Land management decisions should be made by the people who know the land best — not Washington bureaucrats.
Overregulation by the federal government has grown because the separation of powers between the three branches of government has eroded over the years. Using the CRA allows us to roll back some of the most harmful regulations from the Obama administration, but we cannot stop there. In order to restore the separation of powers, Congress must legislate in a way that prevents ambiguity in the law. This is the lens through which my colleagues and I will write laws in the 115th Congress.
Rep. Scott Tipton represents Colorado’s 3rd District.
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