Republicans in Washington took their biggest step yet to reverse Barack Obama’s regulatory legacy, dusting off a little-used congressional tool and voting to kill a rule aimed at protecting streams from the effects of coal mining.
With the Senate following the House in voting for the measure, President Donald Trump is now poised to be the first president in 16 years to sign a regulatory repeal resolution. It will be only the second rule overturned by the Congressional Review Act — and for Republicans it’s just a start. They have a long queue of other rules they want to repeal the same way.
“A lot of the talk of the election is now going into action,” Senator Shelley Moore Capito, a West Virginia Republican, said on the Senate floor before the vote. She called the coal-mining rule a “last minute power grab aimed at giving more power to the federal government.”
While Trump and congressional Republicans are divided on issues such as tax and trade, they are united in wanting to halt federal regulations. House Speaker Paul Ryan unveiled his Better Way plan last year that outlined how both specific rules should be rescinded, and the process be changed so that issuing new regulations is harder.
In his first days in office Trump issued an order directing departments to cut two rules for every new one issued. He has advocated against the biggest environmental rules issued under Obama, including the landmark Clean Power Plan. That makes use of the CRA especially relevant.
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