President-Elect Trump May Tap Rarely Used Law to Overturn Regulatory Rules
President-elect Trump will have an opportunity to reverse a number of the Obama administration’s regulatory rules through a rarely used law called the Congressional Review Act (CRA). The CRA was passed as part of the Contract With America Advancement Act by Congress in 1996 when Newt Gingrich, now a close Trump adviser, was House Speaker. To invalidate a rule, resolutions must pass both houses of Congress, then either be signed by the president or passed over the president’s veto by two-thirds votes in both chambers. Those hurdles have in the past made the law nearly impossible to use, as the president normally vetoes an effort to kill a rule issued by his own administration.
The two-decade-old Congressional Review Act has been invoked successfully only once to overturn a regulation. This occurred during the last transition of power from Democrats to Republicans, in early 2001, when a rule on ergonomics standards promulgated during the final days of the Clinton administration was invalidated by Congress after Bush took office.
Now, unified Republican control of Capitol Hill and the White House in 2017 gives the party an opportunity to use it more freely, since President-elect Donald Trump would be unlikely to veto a measure passed by lawmakers to roll back rules written by his Democratic predecessor. Ultimately, it may prove to be a fast and effective method for President-elect Trump to act on his promise to cancel “every unconstitutional executive action, memorandum and order” issued by President Obama. The Congressional Research Service estimates that rules issued after May 30, 2016, may be subject to review under the CRA.