Congress, White House Move to Rescind Obama-Era Rules

The Associated Press reports House Republicans approved a measure on Wednesday to rescind Obama-era rules designed to protect streams by a vote of 228-194. Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH) said, “Make no mistake about it, this Obama administration rule is not designed to protect streams. Instead, it was an effort to regulate the coal mining industry right out of business.” On Thursday, the Senate voted 54-45 approving the measure and sending it to President Trump for approval.

The House also voted on Wednesday to “rescind a separate rule requiring companies to disclose payments made to foreign governments relating to mining and drilling.” That measure was approved, 235-187. “Republicans said the regulation placed an unfair burden on U.S. companies by requiring them to hand over key details of how they bid and compete while many foreign competitors are under no obligation to do the same.”

The Washington Post reports “President Trump made clear Wednesday his intention to sign the five resolutions aimed at overturning Obama administration rules.”

“A Statement of Administration Policy issued by the White House underscores the extent to which Republicans are prepared to undo several key rules enacted in the months before President Barack Obama left office. If he signs off on the rollbacks, Trump will be the first president in 16 years to sign legislation using the Congressional Review Act to overturn federal regulation. The act gives Congress a limited period of time to nullify federal regulations after they’ve been finalized.”


The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday voted along party lines to approved U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., as U.S. Attorney General. Democrats, who have been trying to delay President Trump’s cabinet picks, voted against their colleague.

His nomination now goes to the floor, where he is widely expected to be confirmed given the GOP’s 52-seat majority, The Hill reported. Democrats had used a procedural move to stall a planned Tuesday vote on Sessions, who has been a close advisor to Trump since he announced his campaign.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said being a close adviser to Trump doesn’t disqualify him from being attorney general. “Who do you expect him to pick?” he asked, adding that Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., was okay with President John Kennedy choosing his brother Robert Kennedy to be attorney general.

Sessions, who is well liked by his GOP colleagues, appears to have the 50 votes he needs to get confirmed with Republicans holding a 52-seat majority. GOP members have not voiced any opposition to Sessions, and he has the vote of at least one Democrat – Sen. Joe Manchin.


U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, whose district north Alabama, will remain vice chairman of the Space Subcommittee for the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, according to a release from Brooks’ office. The subcommittee has oversight on astronautical and aeronautical research and development, including the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Space Council and international space cooperation, the TimesDaily reported.

NASA has a major center in Huntsville, the George C. Marshall Space Flight Center.

“I am pleased to continue serving as the vice chairman on a committee that is so important to America and the Marshall Space Flight Center, located in Alabama’s Fifth Congressional District,” Brooks stated in the release. Brooks also will serve on the Subcommittee on Energy and Subcommittee on Environment, according to his office.


Growing Regulations Have Imperiled U.S. Economy
Wall Street Journal (Editorial 1/30) “President Trump signed an executive order adopting a ‘two-for-one’ regulatory budget that will help accelerate growth and innovation. In a working paper for George Mason’s Mercatus Center, Bentley Coffey, Patrick McLaughlin and Pietro Peretto estimate that the economy would be about 25% larger if the level of U.S. regulation had stayed constant since 1980. That’s now more than $4 trillion a year, or $13,000 per person. But the text of the order suggests that for every dollar of new cost imposed on the private economy, each agency will have to find two dollars of burden to relieve.

“The permanent bureaucracy lives to justify its own existence, regardless of which party holds the White House, and rules inevitably beget more rules. Mr. Trump’s order starts to change the institutional incentives. Under a two-for-one policy, each individual department will need to scrutinize its own books in search of offsets and rules needing modernization, which will make deregulation as high a priority as realistic cost-benefit tests, focus the bureaucracy on trade-offs and strengthen regulatory accountability.

“One key appointment to watch will be Mr. Trump’s choice to run the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), who will be crucial to ensuring that the rollback will work in practice. Meanwhile, the House this week will begin the job of repealing some of President Obama’s worst regulations. On the chopping block is one EPA regulation related to streams that is estimated to threaten up to one-third of the remaining jobs in the coal industry. Another target is a Bureau of Land Management rule designed to undermine oil and gas fracking on federal land. A third is a Securities and Exchange Commission rule that forces U.S. companies to report payments to foreign governments, which can mean disclosing proprietary information that competitors can use against them.”


Senator Optimistic About Tax Reform
U.S. Chamber of Commerce (Hackbarth 1/21) “Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, has a lot on his plate in 2017: Health care reform and trade being two items. Another major item is comprehensive tax reform. No major reform of the tax code has taken place since the 1980s, and Sen. Hatch is eager to work on it.

“The first thing I’ll say on tax reform is that Republicans are united in our commitment to reform our nation’s broken tax system. And, now, we have an administration that wants to work with Congress to fix the myriad problems in our tax code and a Congress that is ready to get it done.  I don’t think we could ask for better conditions.

“Indeed, Republicans in both Congress and the White House agree on virtually every fundamental tax reform question. For example, Republicans agree that tax reform should be pro-growth, comprehensive, and should address both the individual and business tax systems. Republicans agree on the need to simplify the tax system by reducing the number of special interest credits and deductions and creating fewer tax brackets.

“Republicans, by and large, agree that we need a fairer tax system that treats similarly situated taxpayers similarly and picks fewer winners and losers. Also, on the point of fairness, most Republicans support repeal or reform of the Death Tax. And, Republicans agree that we need to make our nation more competitive by reducing corporate rates and moving to a territorial tax system.

“The fundamental principles Sen. Hatch laid out fall squarely in line with what our economy needs. We need pro-growth, comprehensive tax reform that lowers tax rates for all businesses and shifts to an internationally competitive system. And most importantly, it must encourage the economic growth that creates jobs and encourages investment.”