GOP Digs Up Obscure Law to Stifle Obama's Executive Branch Power
There's no end to the GOP's dirty little tricks, it seems. Talking Points Memo reports that Republican Congressmen have dusted off an obscure rule that will allow them to have greater control in the incoming Congress, despite having only won the majority in the House this November.
In the nearly two months since the November midterms, the conventional wisdom has centered on the idea that President Obama's agenda will be largely protected from an influx of Republicans by the Senate's arcane rules and his own veto pen. With 47 members in the 112th Congress, the GOP will lack a majority, let alone a supermajority, to pass the legislation they'd need to pass to undo Obama's accomplishments and blunt his progress -- as if he'd sign those bills anyway.
But Republicans are all too aware of this conundrum, and have been looking for ways around it. What they found is an obscure authority provided by a 1996 law called the Congressional Review Act. It provides Congress with an expedited process by which to evaluate executive branch regulations, and then give the President a chance to agree or disagree.
This law could reportedly give the GOP "carte blanche" to "pass as many of these 'resolutions of disapproval' as they want."
The key is that a small minority in the Senate can force votes on them as well, and they require only simple-majority support to pass. If they can find four conservative Democrats to vote with them on these resolutions, they can force Obama to serially veto politically potent measures to block unpopular regulations, and create a chilling effect on the federal agencies charged with writing them.
Democrats apparently aren't too worried, but they are annoyed. Says outgoing chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA):
I think what [Republicans are] going to do is try to keep on dramatizing the issues that they think are helpful to them. The next two years I expect all their actions to be campaign oriented.... They're all about messaging, they're all about power, they're all about politics. What they don't seem to be concerned about is governing.