With 95 economically significant final regulations in the pipeline this year, President Obama is more ambitious than previous presidents, but he will not be the first to issue a flurry of “midnight regulations” on his way out the door. However, according to a new report from the Congressional Research Service, any rule that he doesn’t publish by May 16th runs the risk of being summarily overturned in 2017.
Under the Congressional Review Act (CRA), congress has 60 working days after a final rule is issued to review it and decide whether to send a “joint resolution of disapproval” to the president. For rules issued with less than 60 working days left in the current Congress, the review clock starts over in the next Congress, which would mean congressional resolutions of disapproval would land on the desk of the next president, reducing the threat of a veto. According to CRS’s review of the current legislative calendar, that means that the 115th Congress seated in January 2017 will have a chance to review any rule issued after May 16, 2016. If the new Congress resolves to disapprove any of those regulations, the 45th president will be the one to sign or veto that resolution.