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GUEST COLUMN: Congressional Review Act empowers the American people

By: Doug Lamborn
February 5, 2017 Updated: February 8, 2017 at 4:10 pm
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It has been only two weeks since inauguration, and Congress has made strides to reduce the burden of the federal government and restore power to the American people. The people I represent in Colorado are energized about the changes taking place in Washington, and they expect to see real results.

Part of giving power back to the people is reducing the executive bureaucracy. During the eight years of the Obama administration, rules and regulations cost taxpayers over $890 billion, $24 billion of which occurred just in the last three weeks of 2016. These outlandish costs trickle down to create burdens on each American. If we want a fresh start in Washington, we need to clean house - starting with the Obama administration's midnight rules.

One way we're restoring checks and balances in Washington is through the Congressional Review Act. The CRA gives Congress the power to disapprove of administrative regulations and has the force of law to undo midnight regulations, as well as block future rules. The CRA also only requires a simple majority to pass in the Senate. This week, the House will pass, with my support, five CRA resolutions to roll back Obama-era regulations.

Congress is committed to starting by rolling back the regulations that have the most detrimental impact on American families, like those that affect energy costs, jobs and the economy.

An estimated 68,000 coal jobs were lost during the Obama administration - and one single rule threatens a third of the country's coal workforce. Overturning the Stream Protection Rule removes barriers to coal production while protecting the environment. Without this rule, states will be empowered to exercise their right to regulate, as we've seen successfully in Colorado.

We're also pushing back on redundant regulations that create red tape without benefit to American families or the environment. The BLM Methane Rule, or Venting and Flaring Rule, was designed to halt energy production on federal lands - ignoring the fact that methane emissions from oil and natural gas have been in decline for decades. Using the CRA to oppose the Venting and Flaring rule reduces regulatory burdens and restores proper authority to the EPA, which will lead to more energy production of cleaner natural gas, more jobs in Colorado and lower prices for everyone.

Another superfluous regulation includes a hasty addition to the Dodd-Frank Act. Section 1504 of Dodd-Frank has been projected to cost American businesses over $5 million each year. This rule also oversteps the SEC's mission, without providing added protections to the consumer. The CRA will nullify the SEC's Resource Extraction rule and prioritize capital formation that benefits consumers.

The House also intends to revoke the previous administration's expensive Federal Acquisition Regulation. This rule, called the blacklisting rule, requires businesses to report alleged violations of labor laws before they bid on federal contracts. The burden that this places on small businesses has been estimated to cost over $400 million in compliance costs. The CRA will protect small businesses from unjust accusations, as well as save money for investment, expansion and jobs.

In addition, Congress is pushing back on a Social Security administration rule that violates the Second Amendment and due process rights. The rule allows the Social Security administration to share personal information with the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which would cause a lengthy appeals process for those who wish to buy a firearm. Advocates for mental health and the Second Amendment have voiced opposition to this rule, and the CRA will eliminate this violation of privacy.

Families and small businesses will reap the benefits of a smaller federal government that protects their rights and doesn't infringe on their livelihood. With the enactment of these CRAs, and other measures to reduce bureaucratic rules and cut excess spending, the regulatory regime of the past eight years will finally come to an end. The status quo has ended, and a new era in Washington is beginning - an era that empowers the American people, not federal rulemakers.


Doug Lamborn is the U.S. representative for Colorado's 5th Congressional District.

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