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Dems Still Unsure How They’ll Reverse Bush’s ‘Midnight Regs’ « The Washington Independent

Earlier this month, we ran a piece indicating that congressional Democrats have plans to reverse a controversial Bush administration rule that could limit women’s access to reproductive health services — but they’re not sure yet how they’ll do it.

The same is true, it seems, of the Democrats’ strategy for a host of other “midnight regulations” coming from the White House in recent months.

From The New York Times:

“Congress is going to have to roll up its sleeves and review these midnight regulations,” Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, said in an interview, “because it’s clear that they are part of a desire for the administration, as it heads out the door, to put some ideological trophies on the wall.”

Mr. Wyden, the chairman of a subcommittee on natural resources, said he was focusing on a series of recently issued environmental rules. Among them are measures relaxing protections for endangered species, allowing uranium mining near the Grand Canyon, and making it easier for coal companies to dump mining debris in nearby streams and valleys. [...]

Spokesmen for the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, and the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, said they shared their colleagues’ desire to overturn some of the regulations but were waiting for guidance from the administration before adopting a specific strategy.

President-elect Barack Obama’s incoming White House counsel, Gregory B. Craig, said in a statement that their team was in the process of reviewing “these new regulations that are being issued during the final days” of the Bush administration and “will take appropriate steps to address any concerns in a timely manner.”

Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) vows to tap the Congressional Review Act to overturn the rule easing protections on endangered species, according to The Times. Yet that law, which allows Congress to nullify White House regulations arriving in the final months of the president’s term, wouldn’t be the most efficient way to tackle Bush’s controversial rules. As The Times points out, the CRA would force lawmakers to debate and vote on each rule separately — a time-consuming process for a Congress with a full slate already.

The quicker route might be to adopt legislation, introduced last week by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), that would hinge the finalization of President George W. Bush’s midnight rules on approval by the incoming Obama administration.

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