The new Congress and Administration have been very vocal in their desire to roll back onerous regulations issued by the Obama Administration—and both have vehicles through which they can do just that.
- President-elect Trump can unilaterally withdraw or suspend any proposed rule that the Obama Administration did not finalize. He can also revoke, modify or supersede any of the more than 230 Executive Orders (EOs) issued by President Obama. It is likely President-elect Trump will revoke many significant EOs on his first day in office. He is likely to revoke EOs regarding immigration, gun control, labor, NAFTA, the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the environment.
- Congress, on the other hand, can overturn rules using the Congressional Review Act (CRA) or simply pass legislation to address regulatory reform. In fact, the House has already begun its work on regulatory reform, passing the Midnight Rules Relief Act to amend the CRA to allow multiple rules to be overturned with a single vote. Likewise, the House will also take up legislation called the REINS Act (Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act) to require congressional approval for any rule that has an estimated annual economic impact more than $100 million. The Senate did not pass this legislation in 2016 and passage in the Senate in 2017 is unlikely due to strong opposition from Democrats.
- Using the CRA, Congress can overturn rules 60 legislative days after it receives them. They must first pass a joint resolution of disapproval that, if signed by the President, deems the rule not to have any effect. Because of the presidential veto, the CRA has been used successfully only once. However, with Republicans controlling Congress and the Presidency, the CRA could be a powerful tool for rolling back regulations issued by the Obama Administration.
The Congressional Research Service estimates any rule finalized after June 13, 2016, can be subject to the CRA. That includes more than 2,300 rules, 650 of which were finalized since Election Day. Most are minor, but nearly 200 are significant.