House Republicans prepare to kill five Obama-era regulations


WASHINGTON, Jan 30 (Reuters) – House Republicans were set on Monday to begin the process of killing five Obama-era rules on corruption, the environment, labor and guns under the first real test of a law intended to keep regulation in check.

Republicans put as much urgency on limiting what they consider overregulation that stifles economic growth as they do on overhauling the tax code and dismantling the Affordable Care Act, according to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

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Under the Congressional Review Act, Congress can use simple majority votes to stop recent regulations in their tracks. Timing in the law means any rules enacted after May 31 are eligible for axing.

The law has been used effectively only once, ending a rule on ergonomics in 2001. Both sides consider this week a test of its powers.

While the Republican-led House of Representatives has passed bills limiting agencies since it convened on Jan. 3, this week marks the first time it has targeted specific rules this year.

Republican President Donald Trump on Monday ordered scrapping two existing rules whenever a new one is approved.

The House Rules Committee was expected on Monday evening to send to the full chamber a measure axing three regulations enacted under former President Barack Obama, a Democrat. They were the Stream Protection Rule, the Securities and Exchange Commission’s “resource extraction rule,” and the Social Security Administration’s expanded background checks on disabled gun buyers.

On Tuesday it will send another measure overturning rules on methane and federal contractors. The full body is expected to pass both measures on Wednesday and then hand them off to the Senate.

The extraction rule, which took six years to complete, was approved this summer and requires companies such as Exxon Mobil Corp to state publicly how much they pay governments in taxes and other fees. Critics say the rule hurts U.S. energy companies, while human rights groups argue it reduces corruption.

The Interior Department took years to craft the stream rule, hoping to prevent coal-mining waste from contaminating water sources in areas near mountain-top removal mining sites. Critics say it is unnecessary and goes too far, wiping out jobs and usurping state rights.

Liberal groups are outraged by the rollbacks, but their traditional allies, Democratic lawmakers, have limited means to stop them in the Republican-dominated Congress.

House Democrats will host events with experts, and activists will try to rally the public against the measures, hoping to persuade Republicans to vote no.

Senate Democrats cannot filibuster the measures but congressional aides expect them to slow the process by taking the full five hours they are allowed to speak against each measure on the chamber’s floor.

(Additional reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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