President Barack Obama’s last few months in office were pretty hard on America. On a mission to cement his legacy, he set out on a final regulatory onslaught to expand the size of government dramatically. His agencies rushed through rule after rule, targeting sectors of the economy that did not sit well with his ideology.
Republicans campaigned on a promise to deliver relief and scale back the size of government. We pledged that we would repeal regulations to create jobs and get the economy moving again. Now, we are delivering on that promise.
Enter the Congressional Review Act. It’s a law on the books that gives Congress 60 legislative days to repeal regulations with a simple voting majority. Furthermore, it dictates that no similar regulation can be issued in the future. Enacted in the 1990s, the Congressional Review Act had only been used to successfully overturn one regulation before 2017.
But in just four months, Congress overturned not one regulation, not two regulations, but 14 harmful Obama-era regulations — those rushed through in the 11th hour of his presidency.
These dictates were poorly crafted, complicated and created massive uncertainty. They made it difficult for businesses to grow and threatened tens of thousands of jobs. They unilaterally grabbed power from the states and gave it to bureaucrats in Washington. They were bad for our economy and our culture.
On the economic front, look at the Interior Department’s stream protection rule, finalized in December. Packaged as an effort to protect the environment, the regulation was really a frontal attack on coal country, projected to wipe out up to one-third of American coal mining jobs. The Obama administration always had an antipathy to coal, and the stream protection rule was its last attempt to try and dismantle the coal industry once and for all.
But Congress stopped that attack. Using the Congressional Review Act, the House and Senate passed H.J. Res. 38 in February, repealing the stream protection rule. President Trump signed the joint resolution into law shortly thereafter.
And take the Department of Health and Human Services’ Title X rule, which overrides state laws. Billed as an effort to protect women’s health, it was really just an effort to keep Planned Parenthood flush with taxpayer cash. Finalized in the last weeks of the Obama administration, the rule banned state governments from moving Title X money away from abortion giants like Planned Parenthood and toward community health centers that help women.
Using the Congressional Review Act once again, Congress stopped that assault on life. Under no circumstances should taxpayers have to pay for abortions. Passed by the House and Senate and signed into law in February, H.J. Res 43 repeals regulations overriding state laws that prohibit federal funding for Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers in their states.
These are just two of the 14 Congressional Review Act bills from the past few months that are now law. Others limit the power of Washington bureaucrats to unilaterally deny government contracts and give state governments back the ability to make land and education decisions in their communities.
Throughout the past eight years, the American people have lived under an administration that pitted the federal government against the American economy and way of life. With Trump in the White House and Republicans in control of both houses of Congress, that era is over. We in Congress had an important tool at our disposal in the Congressional Review Act and we didn’t hesitate to use it.
Repealing some of the most harmful, last-minute Obama-era regulations was the first step in undoing Obama’s big government policies and fulfilling our pledges to the American people.
Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) is the Speaker of the House of Representatives. He represents Wisconsin’s first district in the U.S. Congress.