Politics

Obama To Push 'Midnight Regulations' Before Term Ends

| by Sarah Zimmerman

President Barack Obama is trying to pass at least 98 new laws before his term ends in January and he relinquishes control to President-elect Donald Trump.

Obama's last-minute push for new policy, known as "midnight-regulations" in the political world, is a way for the current lame duck president to make his mark on history and possibly make lasting change, according to the Daily Mail.

The new regulations would affect a variety of domestic and international issues. Politico reports that the prospective laws range from tightening regulations on air pollution from the oil industry and on states' oversight of online colleges and funding for Planned Parenthood. Other legislation deals with debt relief for students who attended defunct for-profit colleges and investment treaties with China.

But Republicans warn that Obama's attempts at change will be ultimately useless once Trump takes office.

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Republican House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California wrote a letter to the heads of federal agencies in early November, telling them to not rush to push through Obama's "midnight regulations."

"Earlier this year, President Obama’s Chief of Staff stated that the Administration will ‘do audacious executive action throughout the course of the rest of the year,'” he wrote, according to Breitbart News. "As you are aware, such action often involves the exercise of substantial policymaking discretion and could have far-reaching impacts on the American people and economy. Should you ignore this counsel, please be aware that we will work with our colleagues to ensure that Congress scrutinizes your actions -- and, if appropriate, overturns them -- pursuant to the Congressional Review Act."

The Congressional Review Act McCarthy refers to is a 1996 law allowing legislators to kill any regulation they don't like that was made during a president's lame duck period. Congress can vote to repeal any rule put into place after May 30 by a simple majority-rules vote. If the law is overturned, agencies will be forbidden from passing regulation in the future that are "substantially the same," according to Politico.

Some agencies have seem to have heeded McCarthy's warning. The Interior Department, for example, has yet to release legislation to protect streams from coal mining pollution and most likely never will, according to Politico.

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Others are ignoring the possible Republican threat and working hard to make as many changes as possible. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy wrote to her employees after the Nov. 8 presidential election that there will be a flurry of activity to advance the agency's agenda. 

"As I've mentioned to you before, we're running -- not walking -- through the finish line of President Obama's presidency,” she wrote. “Thank you for taking that run with me. I'm looking forward to all the progress that still lies ahead."

Of the 98 regulations under consideration, 17 of them are considered to be "economically significant" and could cost the country up to $100 million a year. Trump has stated that he will kill most of these laws once he assumes office, stating that he will end "all illegal and overreaching executive orders" and overturn "every wasteful and unnecessary regulation which kills jobs."

Sources: Daily Mail, Politico, Breitbart News / Photo credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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