Oversight, Executive Orders, and the Rule of Law

by David Driesen | March 14, 2019

This post is based on a recent article published in the University of Missouri—Kansas City Law Review.

Congressional oversight and the public's impeachment discussion tend to focus on deep dark secrets: Did President Trump conspire with the Russians? Did he cheat on his taxes? Did he commit other crimes before becoming president? The House Committee on Oversight and Reform (or the Judiciary Committee), however, should also focus on a more fundamental and less hidden problem: Trump has systematically sought to undermine the rule of law in the United States. He has done the opposite of what his oath of office requires by taking care that the law be faithlessly executed. I am not just talking about some illegal actions, but rather about a systematic effort to direct government employees to do the opposite of what the Constitution requires. For this reason, there is a need for centralized, not subject-matter specific, oversight.

Trump has openly employed a three-part strategy to destroy the rule of law. He issued a series of executive orders establishing policies that attack the Constitution and much of the U.S. Code. He put people opposed to faithful execution of the law into key posts, such as Scott Pruitt at the Environmental Protection Agency and Betsy DeVos at the Department of Education. And he sought to oust career civil servants (as the autocrats he so admires have done) by firing or demoting many, ...

Resolution of Disapproval: Call for Repealing the CRA Featured in 'The Environmental Forum'

by James Goodwin | February 28, 2019
The return of divided government promises to bring with it a welcome, albeit temporary, reprieve from the unprecedented abuse of the Congressional Review Act (CRA) that we witnessed during the 115th Congress. As I argue in an article featured in the March/April edition of The Environmental Forum, published by the Environmental Law Institute, the CRA has become far too dangerous a law – and the happenstance of divided government should not be the only thing protecting the public interest from ...

Regulatory Review in Anti-Regulatory Times: Congress

by Daniel Farber | January 17, 2019
Originally published on Legal Planet. In theory, cost-benefit analysis should be just as relevant when the government is deregulating as when it is imposing new regulations. But things don't seem to work that way. This is the second of two blog posts analyzing how costs and benefits figured in decisions during the past two years of unified GOP control of the federal government (read the first post here). Today, I focus on Congress. For the first time in history, Congress ...

By Fixing Congress, the Planned H.R. 1 Could Strengthen Public Protections, Too

by James Goodwin | December 13, 2018
Not long after their party regained control of the lower chamber in the midterm elections, House Democratic leaders unveiled their signature legislative action for the next Congress – a package of reform measures aimed at tackling some of the worst ethics abuses involving the Trump administration's top officials and members of Congress. Symbolically assigned the designation of H.R. 1 to underscore its status as the top legislative priority, the bill would do more than just restore the integrity of our ...

Act Two: Answering the Clear Mandate for Vigorous Oversight

by Matt Shudtz | November 08, 2018
For two years, President Trump has attempted to steer federal policy in ways that undercut core American values. His vision of government – to the extent one can divine a coherent vision – lacks compassion, fairness, a commitment to equal voice and opportunity, and concern for the long-term threats that families and communities cannot address on their own. Instead, the president has embarked on a campaign to remake the core institutions of our democracy in a new, authoritarian mold. And ...

New Report: It's Time to Repeal the Congressional Review Act

by James Goodwin | May 02, 2018
Over the last couple of weeks, conservatives in Congress have continued their assault on public safeguards using the once-obscure and once-dormant Congressional Review Act (CRA). If their latest adventure succeeds, it will be the 16th public protection that these members, working with in concert with President Donald Trump, have obliterated over the last year, laying waste to a broad and diverse range of measures related to public health, safety, the environment, and consumer financial protection.  The anti-safeguard lawmakers behind these ...

Questions for Scott Mugno, Trump's Pick to Lead OSHA

by Katie Tracy | November 02, 2017
Scott Mugno, Vice President for Safety, Sustainability, and Vehicle Maintenance at Fed Ex Ground in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is President Trump's pick to head the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Although whispers of Mugno's possible nomination had spread across Washington, D.C., over the past several months, not much has been said about his credentials for the job. One major concern is Mugno's connection to the notoriously anti-regulatory U.S. Chamber of Commerce, for which he is currently the chairman of the ...

At House Oversight Hearing, A Call for Trump to Abandon the Pillars of His Assault on Safeguards

by James Goodwin | October 24, 2017
Today, I will testify before two subcommittees of the House Oversight Committee at a hearing that I hope will provide a critical examination of the Trump administration's so-called "Regulatory Reform Task Forces." Created by Trump's Executive Order 13777, these task forces are essentially designed to be "hit squads" embedded at each agency with the goal of carrying out the Trump administration's assault on public safeguards from within. In my testimony, I provide a comprehensive critique of the task forces, as ...

Senate Briefing Highlights Need for Strong Federal Role in Protecting Endangered Species

by Alejandro Camacho | October 03, 2017
On September 28, I joined senators and Senate staff for a Capitol Hill briefing hosted by Sen. Tammy Duckworth. Our discussion focused on the report I co-authored with my colleagues at the Center for Land, Environment, and Natural Resources, entitled Conservation Limited: Assessing State Laws and Resources for Endangered Species Protection, which investigates states' capacity to protect and recover endangered species by looking at how these laws compare to the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). It also looks at state and ...

At House Judiciary Hearing, CPR's Steinzor to Call for Repeal of Congressional Review Act

by James Goodwin | September 27, 2017
Tomorrow, CPR Member Scholar Rena Steinzor is scheduled to appear before the Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law of the House Judiciary Committee to testify at a hearing focused on the Congressional Review Act (CRA). The CRA is a controversial law that has been aggressively used this past year by the majority in Congress and the Trump administration to repeal 14 regulatory safeguards that would have protected consumers, workers, and our environment. In her testimony, Steinzor makes the ...

No Way to Make a Sausage

by Matthew Freeman | June 29, 2017
As appalling as the first five months of the Trump presidency have been to those of us who care about public policy and good government, we can't claim to be surprised. As Hillary Clinton memorably explained to historians last summer in Philadelphia, "There is no other Donald Trump. This is it." But what has been a surprise is how bad this Congress has been at legislating. Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell are hardly newbies to the Washington scene or the ...

The Congressional Review Act Is No Solution

by James Goodwin | June 01, 2017
This post was originally published on The Regulatory Review. Over the last several years, conservative opponents of regulatory safeguards for health, safety, the environment, consumers, and the economy have gradually coalesced around a grand theory for why the supposed balance of policymaking powers between the executive and legislative branches has become so, well, unbalanced. These opponents’ theory goes something like this: Congress faces strong incentives to delegate too much substantive policymaking authority to federal agencies because delegation creates a political “win-win.” By passing statutes with ...

New CPR Project - CRA by the Numbers: The Congressional Review Act Assault on Our Safeguards

by James Goodwin | April 25, 2017
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 ...

The GOP's Race to Repeal

by Matthew Freeman | April 04, 2017
This June marks the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Midway, the great sea battle that was the turning point of the war in the Pacific. The American victory over the Japanese at Midway, a tiny atoll literally midway between California and Japan, ended the period of expansion of Japanese-held territory in the Pacific. And so began the long, bloody march that led to Iwo Jima and Okinawa, and that eventually led American bombers to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Last week, ...

Congress Wants Land Agency to Ignore the Facts and Future

by Robert Glicksman | February 28, 2017
Imagine you come across a colleague sitting at his desk amid piles of yellowed papers. When you ask what he is working on, he says it's his annual family budget. "What's with all the old papers?" you might ask. "Oh," he replies, "I always work my new budget off my receipts and bills from 1983, the year we married. Some of them are getting pretty hard to read." "Don't you keep updated records?" you might ask. "And haven't your family ...

House Passes Bill to Silence Agency Experts and Frustrate Public Participation in the Regulatory Process

by James Goodwin | September 15, 2016
Last night, the House of Representatives, in an almost completely party-line vote, passed the Regulatory Integrity Act (H.R. 5226), a bill that would prohibit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and other agencies from engaging the public on their pending efforts to address climate change, prevent foodborne illness, and otherwise act in the public interest. Center for Progressive Reform Senior Policy Analyst James Goodwin offered the following reaction to the bill's passage:  Poll after poll ...

Latest House Anti-Regulatory Package Is Beyond Stale

by James Goodwin | June 14, 2016
This afternoon, Speaker Paul Ryan is scheduled to announce the House majority's latest plan to weaken the U.S. system of regulatory safeguards on which all Americans depend. The following is Center for Progressive Reform Senior Policy Analyst James Goodwin's reaction to this plan:  Speaker Ryan and his anti-regulatory apostles in the House would have you believe that their latest attack strategy on our system of regulatory safeguards is a serious, forward-looking plan. In fact, everything it contains is not just ...

How Conservatives Sell Off the Federal Budget, Bit by Bit, to the Highest Bidder

by James Goodwin | May 02, 2016
Once upon a time, congressional conservatives pretended to care about the appearance, if not the reality, of corruption afflicting the federal budgeting process. Strangely, they chose to act on their sanctimonious outrage by banning earmarks – or legislative instructions that direct federal agencies to spend appropriated funds on certain specified projects – while leaving the much greater problem of "limitations riders" intact. These riders essentially function as the reverse of earmarks by prohibiting federal agencies from spending appropriated funds on certain specified ...

A Meditation on Juliana v. United States

Heinzerling | Jun 17, 2019 | Climate Change

Pollution Bursts and Public Health

Farber | Jun 13, 2019 | Environmental Policy

Updates on the War on Science

Farber | Jun 10, 2019 | Environmental Policy

Getting Ready for Conference on Regulation as Social Justice

Goodwin | May 31, 2019 | Regulatory Policy

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