When Republicans took control of the House in the midterms, they gained a powerful tool in combating regulatory excess with the power of the purse. Senate Republicans may use a different tool in their minority efforts to contain the EPA’s efforts to impose climate-change regulation by fiat, a rarely-used law called the Congressional Review Act. Created in 1996, the law essentially allows Congress to veto regulatory changes created by executive branch agencies, and may become a sledgehammer in battling the Obama administration’s regulatory innovations:
GOP lawmakers say they want to upend a host of Environmental Protection Agency rules by whatever means possible, including the Congressional Review Act, a rarely used legislative tool that allows Congress to essentially veto recently completed agency regulations.
The law lets sponsors skip Senate filibusters, meaning Republicans don’t have to negotiate with Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) for a floor vote or secure the tricky 60 votes typically needed to do anything in the Senate.
The House doesn’t have the same expedited procedures, but it’s assumed the GOP majority would have little trouble mustering the votes needed to pass disapproval resolutions.
A spate of contentious EPA rules that are soon to be finalized could be prime targets, including the national air quality standard for ozone, toxic emission limits for industrial boilers and a pending decision about whether to regulate coal ash as hazardous waste.
“We’re not going to let EPA regulate what they’ve been unable to legislate. And if I’m chairman, we’re going to have a very aggressive, proactive schedule,” Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), the likely incoming chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, told POLITICO.
And they say there may even be enough Dem Support in the Senate to get these reviews passed. As my friend Tom Blumer says, "BOO-YAH!"