by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
What does a ruling about automobile financing have to do with Obamacare? As it turns out, plenty.
This week the Senate acted to repeal a piece of regulatory guidance the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued back in March 2013. As a Politico report Wednesday noted, that precedent allows Congress to nullify other regulatory actions the federal government took years ago—including those on Obamacare.
The Senate action regarding the CFPB guidance came pursuant to the Congressional Review Act (CRA). That law, enacted in 1996, allows Congress to pass resolutions of disapproval regarding rules and actions agencies take. The CRA provides expedited procedures in both houses of Congress, allowing such resolutions to pass the Senate on a simple majority threshold, rather than the three-fifths (i.e., 60-vote) majority usually needed to break a Senate filibuster.
Until this week, Congress has generally enacted CRA resolutions of disapproval following a change in administration, when one party controlled both houses of Congress and the presidency. …
… However, as the Heritage Foundation’s Paul Larkin has argued for many years, the CRA contains a big catch. According to the law, the expedited procedures apply for the 60 legislative days following “the later of the date on which” Congress receives a required report on the regulatory action, or the action is published in the Federal Register. If an administration never officially submitted a report to Congress, the 60 legislative-day clock never began, and the current Congress can still pass a resolution of disapproval under the CRA-expedited procedures.