The GOP just reversed more than a dozen Obama-era last-minute regulations on guns, the environment, and Internet privacy. The deadline to roll back the regulations was last Thursday, but Republicans cited the Congressional Review Act to pass the changes via a simple majority.
The move happened as all eyes in Washington were on Trump after his controversial firing of FBI director James Comey. The GOP praised the reversal of the rules, arguing that it would positively impact the economy.
Republicans Proud of the Success
Sen. Jim Inhofe said he was “almost speechless” over the success. Republicans noted that it is the second time they used the Congressional Review Act to dismantle a regulation. To date, congressional Republicans were able to kill 14 Obama-era regulations that were either signed by Trump or were awaiting on his desk.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D.-NY) criticized the GOP for “bragging” over the recent accomplishment. He underlined that the so-called victory can only underline how little the GOP has accomplished legislatively.
Indeed, the Tea Party hasn’t been able to repeal Obamacare, pass a tax reform, and hike infrastructure spending, as Trump had promised. Nevertheless, the GOP pledged to undo Obama administration rules as soon as Trump got in office.
The latest effort was heavily backed by business groups, including the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Lawmakers rolled back Obama-era protections for waterways near coal mines, for Internet users, and blue-collar workers. The Chamber said these regulations were “the culprit” for slow economic growth as they impacted the business community.
Democrats voted against most of the efforts to repeal the regulations, while Republicans overwhelmingly voted for them. VP Mike Pence cast the tie-breaking vote on allowing states to deny federal funds to abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood.
Many Repeal Resolutions Benefit Businesses
Many of these repeals are designed to prop up businesses such as the repeal of the rule that prevented firearms from landing in the hands of the mentally ill. The NRA and the ACLU argued that it would be discriminatory to include in the instant background check system any mental disabilities or the fact that a third party manages the benefits of the mentally disabled.
Republicans, however, weren’t able to repeal a rule that forces energy giants to capture more methane when drilling. Sen. John McCain argued that rolling back the rule would have barred the Bureau of Land Management from issuing a similar restriction. Sens. McCain, Susan Collins, Lindsey Graham sided with the Democrats on the issue.
Republicans unveiled that they had a couple dozen more repeal solutions in their mind, but they decided to focus on the 14. Had they been more industrious, the regulations to protect customers in case of fraud by shielding funds on their debit cards would have been gone too.
The GOP was, nonetheless, proud of the recent victories. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R.-Ky) praised his fellow Republicans for managing to undo so many Obama-era rules in “just a few short months”. McConnell also thanked the president for working with the party instead of ramming new legislation through Congress as Obama used to do.
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