The Regulatory Wrecking Ball

In Voting On
- Updated


Curator note: The Trump administration has very effectively destroyed many important “checks and balances” that have supported our democracy’s ability to function and has abandoned our international relationships and global leadership.

. This has been accomplished within a few short weeks, with breathtaking speed and scope.

  • We now need only a simple majority in the Senate to approve a Supreme Court Justice after Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate majority leader and Republicans passed that rule. The Senate was intended to be a more balanced part of our Congress, to be more deliberative, to have a more long term, bipartisan purpose. These qualities distinguished the Senate, elected for six years, from the House or Representatives, elected for only two years. Now the Senate has abandoned that approach and will likely be more partisan, less deliberative and less willing or able to lead the long term interests of the American people.
  • The executive branch is responsible for developing the regulations that direct how to implement laws passed  by Congress. During the last two months, the Republicans and Trump have used executive orders to roll back the regulations established by the Obama administration — radically changing the intent and purpose of the law. They are avoiding using the Congress to alter the law and instead using “budget reconciliation” to change the intent of the law, violating a major “check and balance” in our democracy. Budget reconciliation concentrates power in the executive branch and avoids the traditional legislative process of introducing bills in committee, holding hearings, discussing the bills and holding votes. This process is the one that we are familiar with and is the foundation for creating bi-partisanship and compromise.
  • The executive branch is also rolling back major commitments made in the international community on trade, the environment, and human rights, abandoning US values and leadership in all of these areas.
  • The executive branch has indicated a shift away from the US commitment to relationships with our traditional allies in NATO and an embrace of Russia and other authoritarian leaders. These are striking acts of disloyalty from a person who values loyalty above all other qualities.

These recent developments have profound implications for our democracy and specifically It is a surprise to many that the “law of the land” in all areas of the Federal government can be overturned with a single executive order.


Stand Up, Paul Ryan, or Step Aside

Read opinion column from former Republican Representative from Oklahoma on the the traditional role of the Speaker of the House as opposed to Congress being a subordinate to the executive branch.

“As its central feature, the Constitution mandates a deliberate separation between the legislative and administrative, or executive, branches of government. This is not a matter of architecture, a quirk of structural whim. The separation is intended to ensure that no single person or branch of government will amass an excess of power and that the citizenry will retain a firm grip on the government’s policy-making process. If the Congress cedes its independence, the entire constitutional framework, which depends on a system of checks and balances, is compromised.

Maintaining that carefully constructed system is a particular duty of the speaker. Mr. Ryan, though pledged to uphold the Constitution, has taken to acting as though he and the Republicans he leads are members of the White House staff.

. . .

Mr. Ryan would do well to reflect that he is no longer simply a representative from Wisconsin with a penchant for some version of Jack Kemp’s economics. He is the man in charge of seeing that the constitutional model of the United States is safeguarded. If he cannot uphold that commitment, he should turn the job over to someone who can.”

The Regulatory Wrecking Ball

Read full NYT editorial

“These regulatory rollbacks, enacted or proposed, generally favor a big corporate constituent, a narrow special interest or an ideological purpose. The broad public has not demanded the rollbacks — and will not be served by them. That is probably why Mr. Trump has signed many of these measures in private, without the pomp of presidential bill signings. There is nothing here for most Americans to celebrate.

Nor is the damage easily undone. When a regulation is repealed using the Congressional Review Act, agencies are blocked from issuing “substantially similar” rules without express authorization from Congress.

So far, Mr. Trump has signed most of the rollback measures Congress has sent him and given no indication that he would refuse to sign any of those under consideration in Congress. But one thing is clear. The more of these measures he signs, the worse off the public will be.”



Under development –A summary table of the actions taken will be created and updated regularly. This will provide a roadmap guiding activity as the 2018 elections approach — what needs to be addressed in Congress and what new legislation needs to be enacted to restore the original purpose of the law. The “check and balance” of a bi-partisan Congress has been eroded and needs to be restored to blunt the new powers that have accrued to the Supreme Court and the executive branch.

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