January 12, 2017 / 8:01 PM / 7 months ago

Congress to start undoing Obama-era regulations this month: leader

U.S. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) laughs as he and House Speaker Paul Ryan, flanked by House Republican Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), introduce Representative Jason Smith (R-MO) and Representative Luke Messer (R-IN) as new members of the House Republican leadership team after their caucus held leadership elections on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. November 15, 2016.Jonathan Ernst

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republican lawmakers will begin voiding dozens of new U.S. regulations at the end of the month to fulfill their promise to undo Democratic President Barack Obama's legacy, focusing on environmental and labor rules, the House of Representatives' second most powerful Republican said on Thursday.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said the Republicans who will shortly control both Congress and the White House for the first time in 10 years have made reforming federal regulation a top priority alongside repealing the Obamacare healthcare program and rewriting the tax code.

Republicans are on a blitz to radically reform the vast federal bureaucracy, where they say appointed officials create costly, burdensome red tape that stifles economic growth. Once Republican President-elect Donald Trump is inaugurated on Jan. 20, they will have a like-minded ally in the Oval Office to sign their measures into law.

On the chopping block are dozens of new rules that the outgoing Obama administration has finalized since the end of May on energy, the environment, transportation, banking, finance, education and media ownership.

Republicans will ax them using the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to void a single regulation for a brief window of time after it is issued.

Congress will begin a two-week marathon of voting to disapprove them on Jan. 30, according to McCarthy, who House aides say will lead the process. Disapproval resolutions can pass on simple majorities, giving Senate Democrats no power to block votes with filibusters.

McCarthy told the conservative-leaning Hoover Institution that two of the first votes will be on new environmental regulations. Republicans will seek to kill a contentious rule intended to protect streams and forests from the impact of coal mining and a regulation curbing methane leaks on public lands.

Congress will also take aim at new requirements for employers to report their workers' gender, race and ethnicity that are intended to help root out pay discrimination.

On Wednesday, the House approved a massive bill for creating accountability in rulemaking. The next day, it passed legislation largely along party lines requiring financial regulators to tally the costs of their rules.

Democrats, though, have vowed to block any reform bills, saying the many extra procedures they require will stall agencies' work, making it impossible to create needed regulations and properly oversee special interests.

Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Jonathan Oatis

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