Advocates of late-decided Obama-era regulations can rest easy: The time limit for Congress to use the Congressional Review Act to repeal regulations imposed in the last six months of the Obama presidency has passed.
The deadline expired Wednesday, disappointing advocates of one last rule change, an effort to repeal an Obama-era rule that limited the amount of methane allowed to leak or be vented into the atmosphere during oil and gas production. The House of Representatives had passed the repeal in February, but the Senate rejected it Wednesday 51-49, with Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and John McCain of Arizona joining Democrats in voting against the measure.
Now Congress can no longer use the review act to repeal Obama-era regulations.
The expiration of the law’s time limit comes too late to save 13 regulations that Congress repealed during the first days of the Trump administration. The repeals — the most ever under the law, which had been used only once before — were crucial to President Donald Trump’s effort to brand his first 100 days a success for decreasing government regulation.
Among the eliminated regulations was one that would have prevented mentally ill people from purchasing handguns and another requiring internet service providers to obtain customers’ consent before sharing their information.
The Congressional Review Act requires that both chambers of Congress approve a repeal and that the president sign it within 60 legislative days of the rule being first received in Congress. Passing a repeal needs only a simple majority in both the House and the Senate, meaning Senate Democrats couldn’t filibuster.
With the deadline passed, the GOP will have to use the traditional legislative process to repeal regulations, something that would require bipartisan cooperation in the Senate, where Republicans hold a majority but are eight votes short of the 60 required to take up most legislation.