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Congress repeals last-minute Obama rules
February 10, 2017
By U.S. Congressman Raul Labrador

It’s been an amazing two weeks in Washington.

Congress has moved swiftly and boldly to repeal overreaching last-minute rules from the Obama Administration, reasserting its constitutional duty to make the law and pushing back against abuse of executive authority.

We did so by reviving the dormant Congressional Review Act (CRA), which had been used successfully only once since President Clinton signed the law in 1996. The CRA requires agencies to report rulemaking to Congress and provides special procedures to consider legislation to overturn those rules.

Importantly, resolutions brought under the CRA are not subject to filibuster in the Senate.

In just two weeks, the House has voted to repeal eight rules enacted in the final months of the Obama Administration. The Senate has already passed two of those and President Trump has vowed to support our efforts and sign the repeal measures.

One of the most disheartening experiences of my six years in Congress has been the failure of the legislative branch to oppose the Obama Administration’s contempt for the law. I’m excited that we’re finally doing our job to restore the balance of powers, boost the economy and listen to local and state input.

Three costly regulations were among those rejected by the House: A “stream protection” rule that threatened one-third of the nation’s coal mining jobs; an oil and gas rule hamstringing development of domestic energy; and a Securities and Exchange Commission rule that advantaged foreign competitors over U.S. energy companies.

The House also moved to block two education rules that empowered bureaucrats over parents, teachers and school boards. And we rejected a Social Security Administration Rule that would have deprived people of their 2nd Amendment rights without due process.

For Idaho, the most important rule headed for repeal is the Bureau of Land Management’s “Planning 2.0 Rule.”

At a hearing in July, I pressed a top administration official to be responsive to widespread objections from states and counties and consider rewriting the rule governing resource management planning on BLM land. Gov. Butch Otter was among those asking for a reset. But the Administration was more concerned about forcing through the rule at the 11th hour than actually improving the planning process.

The 2.0 rule made a profound shift, devaluing local and state input and moving decision making to high-level BLM bureaucrats in Washington.

The BLM is the West’s biggest landlord, managing 250 million acres including 12 million in Idaho. Idaho ranchers hold nearly 2,000 grazing permits and run 1.3 million cow-calf pairs on BLM allotments. Oil and gas exploration, mining, recreation and other uses abound and the economic health of rural communities depends on sound management of these public resources.

The new rule abandoned any notion that those closest to the ground should have influence in federal land management. Consultation with those who live and work on the land makes for better long-term management that benefits both the landscape and our rural communities. We need more of it, not less.

Our work in the last two weeks is just the beginning of our effort to clear away bureaucratic impediments that hurt our economy. Much remains to be done to remove unnecessary regulations that raise the cost of doing business, eliminate jobs and threaten competitiveness.

I’m pleased to report we’re off to a great start.
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