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Congressman Bobby Scott

Representing the 3rd District of Virginia

MIDNIGHT RULES RELIEF ACT OF 2017

January 4, 2017
Floor Statements

Mr. SCOTT of Virginia. Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to H.R. 21, the so-called Midnight Rules Relief Act, which amends the Congressional Review Act. The Congressional Review Act allows Congress to overrule regulations promulgated by the executive branch. That law expects a deliberative approach to considering each and every rule.

   H.R. 21 would allow Congress to consider a joint resolution to simultaneously disapprove of multiple regulations all at once when such rules are issued in the last 60 legislative days of a session of Congress during the final year of a President's term. In this case, the 60 legislative days reach-back would apply to rules issued as far back as June of last year, almost 7 months before the end of the President's term. To call rules issued that long ago a midnight rule is a particular misnomer.

   This bill puts in place an indiscriminate process to eliminate rules, many of which have been under development for years--or even decades--to protect consumers, working families, and students. This bill denies Congress the opportunity for a careful, individualized, case-by-case review that is appropriate for a reasoned, decisionmaking legislative body.

   Under the Congressional Review Act, if a rule is eliminated, such rule can never be taken up again in similar form without additional legislation overriding the restriction, even if the undesirable rule turns out, upon further reflection, to have been the best alternative.

   Some of the rules that could be impacted that are just under the jurisdiction of the Education and the Workforce Committee include the Department of Labor's rule requiring Federal contractors to provide up to 7 days of paid sick leave annually for their employees; the upcoming OSHA rule, which has been under development for 18 years, which would protect workers from exposure to beryllium, a metal that can cause lung disease, resulting in a victim essentially suffocating to death; the Department of Education's rule involving the borrower's defense, which helps student borrowers who are defrauded by their universities; and the Department of Education's K-12 accountability rule, which involves the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act, making sure that all students can graduate ready for success for college and career.