WASHINGTON Jan 4 The U.S. House of
Representatives passed legislation on Wednesday giving Congress
the power to kill dozens of recently enacted rules in one fell
swoop, as Republicans charged ahead on their campaign to strip
down federal regulations.
It was the second time the Republican-dominated chamber took
up legislation blocking "midnight rules," those rolled out at
the close of a president's term. But the previous bill,
introduced in November, had faced a certain veto from President
Barack Obama, a Democrat.
On its second day back in session, the House passed the bill
on a vote of 238 to 184. The Senate is expected to soon consider
companion legislation, which could face a harder time because it
would need eight votes from Democrats.
Under a law known as the Congressional Review Act, Congress
has the right to review regulations for a certain period of time
after they are issued. That means any federal regulation
approved since May could be voided by the Republican-led
Congress once President-elect Donald Trump moves into the White
House and can sign off on their disapproval.
It takes only a simple majority of both chambers to reverse
a rule, giving Senate Democrats little power to block a vote
with a filibuster.
As disapproving each regulation separately could span days,
Republicans would like to simply vote once to end a variety of
new rules on energy, the environment, transportation, banking,
finance, education and media ownership.
Many Wall Street regulations inspired by the 2007-09
financial crisis have only recently taken final form or are on
the cusp of completion, putting them in the disapproval line of
fire. That includes two pending rules on payday lending and
mandatory arbitration clauses in contracts - both of which have
raised Republican ire.
"Because outgoing administrations are no longer accountable
to the voters, they are much more prone to issue midnight
regulations that fly in the face of the electoral mandate the
voters just gave the new, incoming administration," said House
Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte before the vote.
"Waves of midnight rules can also be very hard for Congress or a
new administration to check adequately."
Cutting down regulation was a near-constant theme in
Republican political campaigns last year, and is part of House
Speaker Paul Ryan's "Better Way" agenda. The House is also
expected to consider soon legislation that would require a
congressional vote of approval for any new regulation.
(Additional reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Linda Stern
and Alistair Bell)