Since the beginning of Donald Trump's presidency he, and the Republican controlled Congress, have heavily relied upon the Congressional Review Act to overturn a number of Obama's climate change regulations. Under the Congressional Review Act, legislators have sixty legislative days to overturn major new regulations from federal agencies. Trump and his team started using the Congressional Review Act so quickly that they were able to reach back and overturn legislation reaching back to July of 2016.
Trump has revoked fourteen regulations related to the environment, energy, labor, abortion, education, gun control, health, finance, transportation, and online privacy.
Here are some highlights of regulations he reversed:
- A regulation limiting the way mines dump debris when clearing earth to prevent the destruction of streams.
- A regulation requiring oil, gas, and mining companies to disclose payments made to foreign governments in exchange for access to drilling or mining rights.
- A regulation requiring the Social Security Administration to give information on individuals with disabling mental illnesses to the Department of Justice to add to a registry so that they cannot buy guns.
- A regulation requiring broadband providers to ask permission from customers to collect and use their online information.
- A regulation tightening restrictions on hunting of animals like wolves and grizzly bears on some Alaskan federal wildlife refuges.
Trump and his team have claimed that rolling back these regulations will streamline the government and that they are freeing us from unnecessary burdens. That argument becomes a lot less convincing when one of the regulations they rolled back means that we have less protection against contaminated drinking water - sure seems like that will end up being a bigger burden in the long run.
Prior to Trump using the Congressional Review Act on a whopping fourteen regulations the twenty-one year old law had only been used once. President George W. Bush used it early in his presidency to reverse a Clinton-era workplace safety regulation focused on reducing ergonomic injuries. The move fired bipartisan fury, with Republicans claiming that President Clinton had rushed the regulation in his final months to appease labor groups, and Democrats claiming that President Bush reversed the law in a hurry to appease his own special interest groups.
It's safe to say that Donald Trump has completely changed the precedent for using this law, and I'm greatly saddened by its use. Being the President of the United States should not be about un-doing your predecessor's work, it should be about helping the American people. I'd like to believe that we could reach a point where we are actually moving forward as a Democracy and a country and not just spending all of our political energy on petty partisan fights. I know this won't happen under President Trump, but I hope whoever takes the office next can start to bring some sanity back to the Oval Office.