Politics Unusual: The Congressional Review Act

- President Donald Trump has been using a little-known law, the Congressional Review Act, to wipe away rules and regulations finalized in the last months of the Obama administration.

Political stars don't always align for this rarely used rule to be effective. But right now, with Republicans in control of both the White House and Congress, the Trump administration is moving quickly to dismantle some core environmental protections put in place by President Obama.

On the campaign trail in West Virginia, coal country, candidate Trump promised to roll back regulations -- environmental and business related -- to bring back jobs. Now that he is president, Trump signed a bill rolling back transparency restrictions for energy companies. Oil, gas and coal companies are all affected. It means the businesses no longer have to disclose payments made for commercial development, wiping out several rules linked to the Dodd-Frank Law. Those are the consumer protections put in place after the financial crisis.

The CRA (Congressional Review Act) gives lawmakers the ability to quickly push bills through and reverse recent regulations by the previous administration with a simple majority, avoiding the possibility of a filibuster.

With a Republican in the White House and the GOP-controlled Congress fast-tracking a laundry list of roll-backs -- everything from financial regulations to methane emissions standards -- any changes would be very difficult to put back into place.

Passing new laws puts constraints on President Trump's ability to issue new executive orders on these issues if he changes his mind in the future. But it is a risk he is willing to take.

At least 10 Congressional Review Act bills are moving through the House and Senate. The CRA was first enacted in 1996. Until now, only one resolution had ever been passed and signed into law.

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