November 12, 2008

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And now for some good news.

Last May, White House chief of staff Joshua Bolten instructed federal agency heads to make sure any new regulations were finalized by Nov. 1. The memo didn’t spell it out, but the thinking behind the directive was obvious. As Myron Ebell of the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute put it: “We’re not going to make the same mistakes the Clinton administration did.”

... But that strategy doesn’t account for the Congressional Review Act of 1996.

The law contains a clause determining that any regulation finalized within 60 days of congressional adjournment — Oct. 3, in this case — is considered to have been legally finalized on Jan. 15, 2009. The new Congress then has 60 days to review it and reverse it with a joint resolution that can’t be filibustered in the Senate.

In other words, any regulation finalized in the last half-year of the Bush administration could be wiped out with a simple party-line vote in the Democrat-controlled Congress.

Given how often the Bush administration have sidelined Congress to push their own policies, the notion that a majority of Congress can so easily sideline Bush's last six months in office has a delicious sense of karma about it.

Crossposted from Newshoggers

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