WASHINGTON Republicans pressed ahead in their
deregulatory push on Tuesday, with the U.S. House of
Representatives Rules Committee officially adding a regulation
on methane and one intended to root out pay discrimination to
the list of rules the whole chamber will vote to kill on
On Monday, the committee sent three other recently enacted
rules on the environment, corruption and guns to the full House
to axe under the Congressional Review Act, which has only been
used effectively once, in 2001.
The Republican-controlled House is expected to vote to
overturn all five regulations on Wednesday, and then hand them
off to the Senate.
Agencies cannot create a new rule to replace any part of an
overturned regulation, and Democrats at Tuesday’s committee
hearing argued that House Republicans were closing off the
possibility of enacting regulations that could be needed in the
They also pressed for more time to consider rolling back
regulations that often took months and years to craft.
“What we’ve been doing today and yesterday … I would
characterize as mindless legislating,” said Representative Jim
McGovern, a Democrat from Massachusetts.
“I worry that this whole process is going to subject a lot
of vulnerable people, and a lot of working people, as well as
our environment to some pretty dark consequences.”
New York’s Louise Slaughter, the committee’s senior
Democrat, while talking about the methane rule during the
one-hour hearing bluntly said: “I disagree wholeheartedly with
what you’re doing.”
Democrats, though, have little power to stop the overturning
of regulations. Only simple majorities in both chambers are
needed to kill a rule. In the past, Republicans’ nullification
attempts were met with veto threats by former president Barack
Obama, a Democrat. Now, a fellow Republican occupies the White
House, President Donald Trump.
Critics of the methane rule say the regulation, which covers
emissions from oil and gas operations on federal and Indian
land, is not necessary. They cast it as a duplicative regulation
that usurps state rights and slows down the distribution of
natural gas through excessive red tape.
Supporters, meanwhile, say that the rule keeps oil and gas
companies from polluting the environment, brings in royalties to
the federal government, and reduces wasted methane.
Those wanting to see the pay-discrimination rule overturned
have similar complaints, saying that other rules already cover
the area and that requiring federal contractors to collect
information on their employees will be expensive and
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