President Donald Trump, his cabinet of billionaire robber barons and the corporate-backed Republican Congress are trying to plunder our nation’s wealth and resources by dismantling public protections, rigging the rules for their own personal benefit, and preying on American workers, consumers and families.
Atop their wish list is a rollback of the regulatory protections established during the last administration. These safeguards protect all of us from corporate privateers, pickpockets, polluters and predators – the same people running the Trump administration and bankrolling Republicans in Congress.
The GOP’s corporate donors spent more than $1 billion to get their way in Congress. Demolishing public protections is a giveaway to these corporate interests that directly endangers the American people. It’s an escalation of the corrupt insider-dealing that candidate Trump campaigned against.
A holdover from Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America, the Congressional Review Act (CRA) allows Congress — by majority vote in both chambers, with limited debate, no possibility of a filibuster and the president’s signature — to override recently issued public protections.
Making matters worse, the CRA blocks agencies from issuing rules that are “substantially the same” without express authorization from Congress. Once protections are repealed under the CRA, we won’t get them back any time soon.
On most other fronts, significant legislative, legal and technical obstacles stand in the way of the GOP’s predatory and plutocratic agenda. But the CRA’s expedited process for repeal makes it easy for Republicans to pay back their corporate cronies. Health, safety, consumer and environmental protections that took years of resource-intensive analysis, comment and review are being wiped out in a matter of days or even hours.
Congress had until May 11, 2017 to undo Obama administration rules finalized after June 13, 2016. So Republicans didn’t waste any time. They repealed 14 public protections using the CRA:
- OSHA Recordkeeping Rule
- Broadband Privacy Protections
- Oil Anti-Corruption Rule
- Gun Limits for the Severely Mentally Ill
- Unemployment Compensation Drug Test Rules
- ESSA Teacher Preparation Standards
- Alaska National Wildlife Refuges Rule
- Land Use Planning Rule
- ESSA Accountability & State Plan Rules
- Women’s Health Care Protections
- Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces EO
- Stream Protection Rule
- Two Rules on Retirement Savings Plans
Remarkably, these resolutions remain the only legislation of consequence that President Trump has signed. This represents a fundamental betrayal of candidate Trump’s promises to drain the swamp, rein in Wall Street and defend the middle class. In many cases, Trump’s own base of supporters are among those with the most to lose.
Take the repealed stream protection rule as an example. When mining companies dump pollutants into nearby streams, it isn’t coastal Democrats whose crops won’t grow, whose drinking water will be poisoned and whose children will end up in the hospital. It’s the rural working-class voters who backed Trump and live close to these drill sites whose families will suffer the most.
Or consider the land use planning rule. It’s Trump’s rural supporters living near federal lands whose voices will be excluded from the planning process, not the voices of Hillary supporting urban dwellers. Throughout the 2016 campaign, Trump promised to look out for regular workers, but Republicans have endangered their lives and their workplaces by repealing the fair pay and safe workplaces executive order and the worker health and safety recordkeeping rule.
Lawmakers must be held accountable for doing the bidding of their corporate donors and voting to repeal these safeguards. Already they have angered the public. Public backlash is continuing to grow as more and more Americans realize what’s been lost and who is responsible.