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 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 ...

New Report: Trump's New 'Regulatory Czar' and the Continuing Assault on Our Safeguards

by James Goodwin | April 20, 2017
As the clock ticked closer to the end of the work day a few Fridays back, the Trump administration quietly made an announcement certain to put smiles on the faces of many corporate interest lobbyists in and around the DC Beltway: Neomi Rao, a little known but very conservative law professor at George Mason University's Scalia Law School, would be the nominee for Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). The announcement probably went unnoticed ...

The Key Ingredient in Trump's Anti-Reg 2-for-1 Executive Order? Fuzzy Math

by James Goodwin | April 12, 2017
Steve Bannon's crusade to deconstruct the administrative state took two big steps forward last week, concluding with Donald Trump nominating George Mason University Law School professor Neomi Rao as his "regulatory czar." CPR will publish a new report on the role of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) Administrator during the Trump administration in the days to come, but for now, I want to focus on the first big development: Acting Administrator Dominic Mancini's new memo providing agencies ...

How Trump's Proposed Cuts to EPA Disempower States

by Karen Sokol | April 11, 2017
Last month, President Trump released his proposed budget for fiscal year 2018, which calls for sharp cuts to many agencies in order to fund increases in defense and military spending. Hardest hit is the Environmental Protection Agency. Already underfunded, EPA will simply not be able to carry out its statutory mandates to keep our environment clean and healthy if subjected to Trump's proposed cut of 31 percent. Rather, the Trump administration asserts that the agency would "primarily support States and ...

Why Trump's Environmental Rollbacks Won't Boost the Economy

by Michelle Zemil | April 07, 2017
It was Ronald Reagan who popularized attacks on regulations when he was on the campaign trail in 1980, and since then, the tactic has been an inescapable feature of our political landscape. The false claims about environmental regulations, job creation, and the economy have been repeated so frequently and for so long that many Americans don't even question them. Yet no matter how many times a fallacy like this is repeated, it remains untrue.  President Trump and his administration have ...

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, ...

News and Observer Op-ed: Trump Can Order, but Federal Judges Will Decide on Climate Rules

by Victor Flatt | April 03, 2017
This op-ed originally ran in the Raleigh News & Observer. President Trump's new "energy" executive order is an attempt to roll back Obama regulations on climate change, and even make considerations of climate change disappear from much of the policymaking process altogether. That's quite a lot to accomplish by executive order, and despite all the media attention he got for it, the president is eventually going to discover that he can't eradicate climate realities from federal consideration with the stroke ...

Trump's Executive Order on Climate Policy Rollbacks, Annotated

by Emily Hammond | March 29, 2017
Donald Trump's anti-climate action executive order is, as CPR President Rob Verchick puts it, a classic act of bullying. As I describe in an annotated version of the order, it is also irrational, failing to achieve the very aims it purports to support while inflicting damage to our climate, environment, natural resources, wildlife, and yes – even our coal miners.  In the annotation, I walk through each section of the order, providing an analysis and commentary on just what it ...

Sowing Confusion and Doubt, Trump Attempts Climate Policy Rollbacks

by Robert Verchick | March 28, 2017
Donald Trump has been in office only 68 days, and already I've passed the threshold from shock to boredom. His order to erase climate change from federal policy, preceded by a speech before captive members of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), only seals the deal. I served at the EPA during President Obama's first term, helping that agency and others prepare for the hazards of climate change. That work is serious and complicated and subtle. Trump, of course, is anything ...

A Dark Day for the Bay

by Evan Isaacson | March 17, 2017
Last year around this time, I happily deleted this headline, "A Dark Day for the Bay," which I was preparing to use for a blog post in the event that the U.S. Supreme Court decided to hear the appeal of the American Farm Bureau Federation and other plaintiffs in their challenge to the Chesapeake Bay cleanup effort known as the Bay TMDL. Ultimately, the Court denied that appeal, leaving in place the decision of a federal appeals court that upheld ...

President's Reckless Budget Proposal Would Gut Agencies, Endanger Our Health and Environment

by Matt Shudtz | March 16, 2017
As part of a coalition of public interest organizations working toward a responsible federal budget that protects people and the planet, I released the following statement on President Trump's reckless budget proposal that guts the EPA, eliminates federal funding for the Chesapeake Bay cleanup effort, and more.  "The president's 'skinny budget' is a particularly apt description for a proposal that would leave crucial protector agencies too emaciated to safeguard our health, safety and environment. Whether it's pipeline inspectors to protect ...

Attacking Regulation Using Slogans, Not Analysis

by Joseph Tomain | March 13, 2017
The Trump administration’s fundamental hostility to government is by now plainly apparent. The President issued an executive order requiring agencies to get rid of two regulations for each new one that is adopted. He appointed administrators who have been extraordinarily hostile to the missions of the departments and agencies that they now head, such as Scott Pruitt at EPA and Betsy DeVos at the Department of Education. And he has proposed deep budget cuts for regulatory agencies. Instead of the ...

The Hill op-ed: Ruling by Decree

by David Driesen | March 07, 2017
This op-ed originally ran in The Hill. The Feb. 28 executive order overturning a Clean Water Act rule clarifying EPA's jurisdiction over wetlands furnishes but the latest example of President Trump's propensity to rule by almost daily fiat. Trump has ruled by decree ever since he assumed office. He has not proposed a single bill to our elected representatives, not even a bill to help blue-collar workers and rebuild America through infrastructure projects, one of his main campaign promises. Nor ...

Myths, Realities, and the Clean Water Rule Controversy

by Dave Owen | March 06, 2017
Originally published on Environmental Law Prof Blog by CPR Member Scholar Dave Owen. Last Tuesday, President Trump signed an executive order directing EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to begin work on a new rule defining the scope of federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act. The rule, if and when it is finalized, would replace the "Clean Water Rule" released by EPA and the Corps during the summer of 2015. Much of the political rhetoric surrounding the Clean Water Rule has suggested ...

Recent Trump Anti-Reg Order Could Breathe New Life into Dangerous Old Law

by James Goodwin | March 03, 2017
The first rule of reading anti-regulatory bills, executive orders, and other policy prescriptions is: Sweat the hyper-technical, anodyne-sounding stuff. And President Donald Trump's February 24 executive order on "Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda" demonstrates why this rule exists.  One of the order's provisions – which no doubt caused glaze to form over many an eye – read: "[E]ach Regulatory Reform Task Force shall attempt to identify regulations that . . . are inconsistent with the requirements of section 515 of ...

No, They Don't, Mr. Pruitt

by Robert Glicksman | March 02, 2017
In his first speech upon assuming his duties as EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt informed the agency's employees that "regulators exist to give certainty to those that they regulate." No, Mr. Pruitt, they do not. Regulators and the regulations they are responsible for adopting and enforcing exist to protect the public interest. In particular, they exist to correct market failures, such as the refusal of polluting industries to internalize the costs of the harm they do to public health and the ...

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 ...

Trump's Latest Executive Order: Scrap Two Regs for the Price of One

by Amy Sinden | January 31, 2017
Remember how Donald Trump bragged he was going to run the country like a business? Imagine if before Trump could open a new casino, he was bound by a rule to close two existing casinos, and the costs of the new casino couldn't exceed the cost savings from no longer operating the old ones. Would this make sense as a business strategy? Of course not. Unless, of course, you were secretly trying to sabotage the business and run it into the ...
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