Newly empowered House Republicans on Tuesday laid down the gauntlet to the outgoing Obama administration: Don’t finalize any pending rules and regulations you think you can slip through before you leave office.
In a letter to hundreds of Cabinet secretaries, commissioners and other heads of federal offices and agencies signed by 22 Republican leaders, the lawmakers noted that President Obama has been generous in his use of executive orders to set policy. And they issued a threat: Ignore us and we will give your agency extra scrutiny.
“Should you ignore this counsel, please be aware that we will work with our colleagues to ensure that Congress scrutinizes your actions — and, if appropriate, overturns them …” said the one-paragraph missive signed by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and 21 Republican committee heads. They oversee federal agencies from the Department of Veterans Affairs to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Tensions over last-minute regulations and executive orders is a ritual when lame-duck presidents ease out of power and newly elected presidents, particularly from another party, ease in.
McCarthy noted that then-Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel made the same request to the outgoing administration of George W. Bush before Obama took office in 2009.
The House is scheduled to vote in the ongoing lame-duck session of Congress on legislation to prevent the last-minute regulations. Obama has threatened to veto the measure, though.
A spokeman for the Office of Management and Budget told Roll Call that the administration will continue to develop and review regulations under “the same rigorous practices and principles” the Obama administration has followed.
“This means that rules will be drafted with the careful consideration they are due under relevant statutes, applicable executive orders and related guidance, in addition to benefiting from adequate public scrutiny and interagency review,” the official said.