If Donald Trump has learned anything over the last 100 days, it's that unlike in golf, you can't call a Mulligan on the beginning of your presidency, no matter how much it might improve your score.
These last few months have been long on scandals and failure (Russian probes, the spectacular implosion of Trumpcare, etc.) and short on policy accomplishments, particularly in the legislative realm. This sad state of affairs has left Trump's PR team looking to inject some positive spin into the 100-days news narrative any way it can, and the Congressional Review Act (CRA) seems to be their go-to vehicle for doing just that.
Using the long-dormant law's expedited procedures, and almost entirely along party lines, conservative leaders in Congress have pushed through a raft of CRA "resolutions of disapproval" that target a wide range of Obama administration-era regulations for repeal. For his part, Trump has been more than happy to sign every one that reaches his desk, with plenty more likely to come. Trump's Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short has been reduced to selling all of the CRA resolutions that Trump has signed so far as "an important story that has not been told."
OK. Let's tell it.
It is distressingly easy to lose track of all the damage that Trump and conservatives in Congress are doing to the public interest through the CRA. (Even White House spokesman Sean Spicer can't keep the numbers straight). That's why CPR is launching a new project – CRA by the Numbers: The Congressional Review Act Assault on Our Safeguards – that pulls together key statistics and quantitative analysis that help to reveal what is really at stake – namely, the reckless destruction of critical protective regulations that individually and collectively would have made us healthier, safer, and more financially secure had they remained in place.
These data also reveal the financial ties that exist between the industries that directly benefit from the regulatory rollbacks and the members of Congress who have sponsored the related CRA resolutions of disapproval, creating the appearance – if not the reality – that lawmakers are using these resolutions to carry out favors for the corporate interests that have made generous contributions to their campaign coffers.
Using the most up-to-date data, some of the more disturbing findings include the following:
In the weeks to come, my colleagues at CPR and I will regularly update the CRA by the Numbers: The Congressional Review Act Assault on Our Safeguards webpage to include new data and other materials as additional resolutions pass Congress and are signed by the president.
One small silver lining is that the "window" that the CRA creates for launching new attacks on Obama-era regulations closed a few weeks ago, which means that the universe of potential CRA victims cannot grow any larger. However, the separate "window" that the CRA creates for using its expedited procedures to complete attacks that have already been initiated remains open for another couple of weeks. That means the several dozen Obama-era regulations already lined up for the chopping block remain very much in danger of elimination, should congressional leadership choose to prioritize those additional CRA resolutions for floor votes.
Continued vigilance remains essential. We invite you to visit the CRA by the Numbers: The Congressional Review Act Assault on Our Safeguards webpage often for updates on the fate of any protective safeguards that you care about and to share it widely with anyone who cares about the misuse of a dangerous law like the CRA to deliver favors to politically well-connected corporate interests.