REINS and CRA Spell Relief

Jan 6, 2017 Issues: Economy, Jobs

While we prepare to inaugurate a new president, Congress is laying the foundation for significant regulatory relief. Throughout the Obama presidency, a main focus of our work in Congress has been pushing back against the administration’s endless roll of red tape.  

From a rule allowing the federal government to control puddles on farmers’ land to regulations preventing rural health providers from determining how best to serve their patients, overreach by the executive branch has harmed far too many Nebraska families, industries, and communities.

According to the Competitive Enterprise Institute, federal agencies issued 3,853 regulations last year alone. This equals 18 rules for every one law passed by Congress. We cannot continue to allow unelected bureaucrats at federal agencies to issue thousands of costly, complex regulations unchecked.

President-elect Donald Trump has called for an overhaul of the regulatory system, which I am eager to work on to help restore freedom and opportunity in America. Since 2014, I have led a Regulation Rewind initiative to fight government overreach. I recently released a report on the legislative actions I have taken, with input from Nebraskans, and I invite you to view it at

After years of executive abuses by the Obama administration, the House passed two bills – the Midnight Rules Relief Act and the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act – in the first week of the 115th Congress to limit the executive branch’s regulatory power. For too long, congresses under both parties have ceded too much legislative authority to the executive branch. These bills will ensure Congress is the primary writer of federal rules and regulations.  

The Midnight Rules Relief Act amends the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to allow Congress to pass CRA resolutions rolling back multiple “midnight rules” issued at the end of a presidential term. Often, outgoing presidential administrations will hastily finalize costly, agenda-driven regulations during their final weeks in office. These rules have no time to be analyzed and can be very difficult to get rid of, even under a new administration.  

Rather than watching the Obama administration drop more costly rules on Americans in its final days, the House passed this legislation to discourage midnight rulemaking and enable Congress to quickly overturn these regulations.    

The CRA is an important tool for Congress to reduce regulatory burdens. It provides a streamlined process to overturn executive rulemaking, including expedited Senate consideration of legislation to block newly finalized rules.  

In July 2015, I introduced a CRA resolution in the House to stop implementation of the Obama administration’s Waters of the U.S. rule, or WOTUS. The Senate companion to my resolution passed both the House and Senate and was sent to President Obama’s desk, where it was unsurprisingly vetoed. When President-elect Trump takes office, I am optimistic we will see much greater success with our CRA efforts.

Moving forward, we must return lawmaking powers to the legislative branch. The REINS Act requires new federal regulations with an annual economic impact of more than $100 million to be voted on by Congress and signed by the president before they can take effect. This bill, which I have cosponsored since 2011, reinstates the checks and balances our Founders intended and holds federal agencies accountable.

To ensure America remains the land of opportunity, we must get government out of the way. Though the overgrown federal bureaucracy has stifled our economy, I am optimistic we will seize this chance to cut it down to size.