Congressman Griffith's Weekly E-Newsletter 1.16.17
The Congressional Review Act: A Valuable Tool
As presidents near the end of their terms, they often race to accomplish as much of their agenda as possible. Famous examples include John Adams’ “midnight” appointment of John Marshall as chief justice and John Tyler’s annexation of Texas into the Union.
President Obama is no different. He is determined to implement as many of his ideas via executive action as possible, no matter how bad they are for the economy, jobs, or wages.
To stop this mischief, Congress possesses a little-used but valuable tool: the Congressional Review Act (CRA). The CRA will allow us to overturn many of President Obama’s final actions.
President Clinton signed the CRA into law in 1996. According to a Congressional Research Service analysis of the law’s provisions, Congress has sixty legislative days after an agency submits a final rule to overturn it. Both chambers of Congress must pass a joint resolution of disapproval in that period. Unlike most legislation, a CRA resolution cannot be filibustered in the Senate. The resolution then goes to the president’s desk for his signature or veto.
Once a CRA resolution is signed, not only is the targeted rule gone, but agencies are forbidden from reintroducing the rule or a substantially similar one in the future.
During its twenty years on the books, the CRA has been used rarely. After all, a president is unlikely to sign a resolution disapproving a rule issued by his own administration. In fact, it has only been used successfully once, when Congress passed and President Bush signed a resolution overturning a rule from the final days of the Clinton Administration.
Fortunately, the same circumstances that permitted the successful use of the CRA in 2001 exist today. President Obama will be replaced by a president who opposes many of the policies he ratified by executive action. Several of President Obama’s actions are ripe for overturning under the CRA.
I am ready to use the CRA to reverse President Obama’s recent administrative actions that hurt the well-being of the Ninth District. I am a cosponsor of H.J.Res.11, which overturns the Interior Department’s Stream Protection Rule. This rule will kill thousands of coal jobs if allowed to take effect.
The Department of Labor’s overtime rule should also be subject to CRA disapproval. This rule endangers small businesses and will force many companies to cut employee hours to balance their books. As a policy that achieves an ideological goal without regard for its damage to the economy, the overtime rule is a perfect example of what the CRA was meant to block.
Based on the legislative calendar, many last-minute Obama Administration rules will be eligible for CRA disapproval until this May. To paraphrase the old adage, the new Congress should vote on CRA resolutions early and often. By doing so, it can prevent great damage to the economy and reclaim authority from the executive branch.
General James Mattis
Last week, Congress voted to waive a law requiring military officers to be retired for seven years before they can serve as Defense Secretary. Congress’ action clears the path for President-elect Trump’s nominee to lead the Pentagon, General James Mattis.
The principles behind the original law are sound. Civilian control of the military is essential in our Republic. The law ensures that the Armed Forces will not be misused by a leader fresh from service with a devoted following among his former soldiers, sailors, or airmen.
Still, Congress reserves the right to make exceptions based on the man and the moment. Congress recognized this in 1950 when it exempted George Marshall, who led the Army through World War II as a general and devised the Marshall Plan as secretary of state. I believe General Mattis also merits an exemption and will make an excellent civilian leader of our Armed Forces.
At noon on January 20th, Donald Trump will take the oath of office as the 45th president of the United States. The inauguration of a new president is an important ritual celebrating the peaceful transfer of power from one individual, and often one party, to another.
Because of the inauguration’s symbolism for our republican form of government, I believe it is my duty to attend. I witnessed President Obama’s second inauguration in 2013, and I look forward to seeing President-elect Trump sworn in on Friday. Later, my daughter and I will attend the Congressional Inaugural ball.
If you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office. You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov. Also on my website is the latest material from my office, including information on votes recently taken on the floor of the House of Representatives.