House Republicans are preparing to undo dozens of regulations enacted by the Obama administration over the past several months — potentially ranging from overtime pay to paid sick leave — with the help of a rarely used law.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy is currently working with the committee chairmen to determine all the regulations that could be rolled back under the Congressional Review Act. The measure, passed in 1996, gives Congress the power to override, and retroactively negate, regulations enacted by federal agencies within the previous 60 legislative days.
Republican House members discussed using this law during a closed-door conference meeting Thursday morning with former congressman and Vice President-Elect Mike Pence. The president would need to sign to sign off, which President-Elect Donald Trump has signaled he would quickly do after he takes office on January 20, 2017.
Lawmakers would like to "chop off the last week of the current congressional schedule so we break December 8th or 9th,” Rep. Bill Flores, R-Texas, told reporters on Thursday. Congressional aides say House GOP leadership is eyeing those dates so lawmakers can undo President Obama’s May 18 rule expanding the number of people who qualify for overtime pay.
Other regulations that could be impacted deal with environmental issues and student debt.
Republicans in the Senate would also be on board with rolling back as many regulations as possible.
"We love CRA. It’s a great way for Congress to have oversight over the administration," a Senate leadership aide told NBC News.
But a House Democratic leadership aide tells NBC News: “Democrats will strongly oppose the use of the Congressional Review Act to undo Obama administration regulations that protect workers, our environment, and address a range of critical issues.”
Because of the long congressional breaks during 2016, regulations implemented by Obama from as far back as May could be rolled back, according to an estimate from the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service.
President Barack Obama has vetoed five attempts by Republicans to use the Congressional Review Act against his regulations during this congressional session alone.
There has only been one regulation overturned in the past 20 years using the Congressional Review Act — a 2000 Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rule related to workplace ergonomics standards.
Congress can adjourn as soon as they vote on funding the government. Money currently runs out December 9.
Leadership decided after hearing from the incoming Trump administration to push ahead with another short-term continuing resolution which would stretch funding to March 31, 2017.
“I think the new incoming government would like to have a say so on how spending is to be allocated in 2017,” House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters Thursday.
House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Kentucky, also called the move "a deference to the Trump administration” and expressed optimism that Republicans would have the votes to push through the bill before the deadline.