• The article focuses on a legislative maneuver involving the Congressional Review Act (CRA) that the Democrats in the 116th Congress should consider as a part of their overall strategy to educate voters going into the 2020 general elections.
  • Bringing the Administration’s contra-climate actions, e.g., rolling back environmental regulations, to the floor of the House and Senate offers the public a much-needed chance to hear climate deniers and defenders explain their respective positions.
  • If a Senate committee has not reported the joint resolution out after 20 days, 30 senators can bring a joint resolution to the floor.
  • A joint resolution under the CRA cannot be filibustered.
  • Under the CRA, when Congress adopts a joint resolution of disapproval, it nullifies the regulation and prohibits an agency from reissuing the same or substantially similar regulation, unless the new or reissued regulation is supported by a new statute adopted after the date of the joint resolution. It is not clear how different a new regulation must be from a disapproved regulation to satisfy this requirement.
  • Policy guidance documents issued by an agency also come under the provisions of the CRA.
  • The CRA provides that any “determination, finding, action, or omission” made pursuant to the joint resolution cannot be challenged in court.
  • If a rule isn’t submitted to Congress, then it isn’t in effect for purposes of the CRA — even should it already be on the books and enforced. It is possible, therefore, for Congress and the president to disallow a regulation dating back to 1996 that wasn’t submitted to the House and Senate.

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Joel B. Stronberg

Stronberg is a thought leader in the climate community with over 40 years of experience covering environmental and sustainability issues as a freelancer.