The House is set to vote Wednesday on a bill that would allow the chamber to speed up legislation to block multiple executive actions taken by President Barack Obama in the waning days of his presidency. But aside from a key coal-mining regulation, it’s unclear which actions are the top priorities.
The House is expected to vote this afternoon on the Midnight Rules Relief Act of 2017, which would allow lawmakers to bundle multiple resolutions of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act, a little-used law allowing Congress to block executive actions within 60 legislative days. President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to undo many of Obama’s environmental regulations, giving congressional Republicans a narrow window to pass resolutions that Trump would sign into law after his Jan. 20 inauguration.
Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) told reporters late Tuesday that Republicans’ “highest priority” under the Congressional Review Act is to block Obama’s stream-protection rule, which was announced on Dec. 19 and requires coal mine operators to monitor water conditions in nearby streams. But Cramer said the Senate is unlikely to vote on a package of executive actions to repeal, instead targeting individual resolutions. He also said he’s not sure what regulations would be next in line after the stream-protection rule.
Rep. Evan Jenkins (R-W.Va.) filed a resolution of disapproval against the stream-protection rule under the Congressional Review Act on Tuesday. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also promised in December to do the same.
Cramer acknowledged some other top Republican priorities on energy and environmental issues are far outside the 60-day window allowed under the Congressional Review Act, including Obama’s greenhouse gas-cutting Clean Power Plan and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Waters of the U.S. rule. But the administration has pushed through a series of actions in its final days. In December alone, it imposed an indefinite ban on offshore drilling in large portions of the Arctic and Atlantic oceans, created large national monuments in Utah and Nevada, and blocked mining on a large swath of land in northern Minnesota.