Legislation Proposed By New Mexico Senator To Repeal CRA Draws Fire From West
A move proposed this week by Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico and two fellow Democrats to repeal the Congressional Review Act is receiving pushback in the West.
“The Congressional Review Act is a critical tool for Congress to use to ensure government works better for taxpayers,” Ryan Flynn, executive director of the New Mexico Oil & Gas Association, said in a statement to Western Wire. “While it was passed with bipartisan support and signed into law by President Clinton, it’s not surprising that big government legislators now want to repeal the law so that they can bury hard-working Americans in red tape.”
The 1996 law gives lawmakers 60 legislative days to nullify regulations issued by the executive branch during the final months of a president’s term in office, and it doesn’t allow for Senate filibusters or other delay tactics. The CRA had only been used once prior to this session of Congress, which this year used it to target late-term Obama administration regulations, including a rule on federal lands and another one on oil and natural gas development on federal and tribal lands.
Udall joined Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) in sponsoring a Senate bill to kill the CRA, and Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) introduced a companion bill in the House.
“The CRA never should have been passed into law, and it’s past time to repeal it,” Udall said in a May 16 news release.
Although Udall called the CRA “a terrible way to work because it’s like using a sledgehammer when a chisel is needed,” former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) co-sponsored the law and counted it as one of his top legislative achievements during his farewell address to the Senate last December.
“What that said is the president promulgates a regulation, Congress has a chance to look it over to see if it’s too burdensome, too costly, too unfair,” Reid said. “That was legislation that I did, and it was great when we had Republican presidents. Not so great when we had Democratic presidents. But it was fair.”
When Republicans in Congress began dusting off the CRA at the beginning of the year, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) quipped, “Thank you, Harry, for that gift.”
Other Democrats welcomed the CRA eight years ago as a way to undo Bush-era regulations, as Western Wire reported earlier this year.
“The hilarious incompetence here is that the White House either forgot or they just didn’t know about something called the Congressional Review Act,” MSNBC host Rachel Maddow said in November 2008, referring to the Bush administration after Barack Obama became the nation’s 44th president.
“[S]ome of the regulations the Bush team thought they were slipping through, it turns out they can easily be reversed,” Maddow noted. “Their efforts to impose their will on the country and the next administration may be thwarted.”
At the time, another MSNBC host, Keith Olbermann, interviewed Georgetown University constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley about the CRA and asked, “[W]hat is this law that the Obama people think that they have found? What … exactly is this promise of blessed relief?”