WASHINGTON Republican lawmakers will begin voiding dozens of new federal regulations at the end of the month to fulfil their promise to undo Democratic President Barack Obama's legacy, focusing on environmental and labour rules, the second most powerful Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives said on Thursday.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said the Republicans who will shortly control Congress and the White House for the first time in 10 years have made reforming federal regulation a top priority alongside repealing Obamacare and rewriting the tax code.
Republicans are on a blitz to radically reform the vast federal bureaucracy, where they say appointed officials create costly and burdensome red tape that stifles economic growth. Republican President-elect Donald Trump, who frequently blasts federal rules, is expected to sign them into law once he is inaugurated on Jan. 20.
On the chopping block are dozens of new rules that the outgoing Obama administration has finalised since the end of May on energy, the environment, transportation, banking, finance, education and media ownership.
Republicans will axe them using the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to void a single regulation for a brief window of time after it is issued.
Congress will begin a two-week marathon of voting to disapprove them on Jan. 30, according to McCarthy, whom House aides say will lead the process. Disapproval resolutions can pass on simple majorities, giving Senate Democrats no power to block votes with filibusters.
McCarthy told the conservative-leaning Hoover Institution that two of the first votes will be on new environmental regulations. Republicans will seek to kill a contentious rule intended to protect streams and forests from the impact of coal mining and a regulation curbing methane leaks on public lands.
Congress will also take aim at new requirements for employers to report their workers' gender, race and ethnicity that are intended to help root out pay discrimination.
On Wednesday the House approved a massive bill for creating accountability in rulemaking. Later on Thursday it is set to pass legislation requiring securities regulators to tally the costs of their rules.
Democrats, though, are vowing to block any reform bills, saying the many extra procedures they require will stall agencies' work, making it impossible to create needed regulations and properly oversee special interests.
(Editing by Lisa Shumaker)