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 Once protections are repealed under the CRA, we won’t get them back any time soon.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.
Although the window for introducing new CRA resolutions targeting Obama-era protections closed on March 30, Congress has 60 legislative working days to vote on them. In practical terms, that means Congress will have until May 10, 2017 to undo Obama administration rules finalized after June 13, 2016.
Republicans in Congress aren’t wasting any time. So far, they have repealed the following public protections using the CRA:
- Land Use Planning Rule
- Alaska National Wildlife Refuges Rule
- Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces EO
- Gun Limits for the Severely Mentally Ill
- Unemployment Compensation Drug Test Rules
- Oil Anti-Corruption Rule
- Stream Protection Rule
- Women’s Health Care Protections
- Broadband Privacy Protections
- OSHA Recordkeeping Rule
- ESSA Accountability & State Plan Rules
- ESSA Teacher Preparation Standards
- State Retirement Savings Plans Rules
Remarkably, these resolutions are 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 recently 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 targeting the fair pay and safe workplaces executive order and the worker health and safety recordkeeping rule.
Lawmakers must understand that by doing the bidding of their corporate donors and voting to repeal these safeguards, they will inflict significant pain on their own constituents and anger the public.
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