Boehner, McConnell call on President Obama to stop ‘midnight regulations’ [Opinion: The Arena]

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House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (

As part of what they describe as their “ongoing effort to protect jobs and economic growth from job-killing regulations,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) in a letter Wednesday called on President Obama to live up to his “pledge to transparency, openness, and accountability by committing to withhold from issuing any economically significant or controversial ‘midnight regulations’ after the current fiscal year ends on September 30, 2012.”

boehner-mcconnell 1.jpg“Midnight regulations” refers to the practice of finalizing rules, guidance, findings or other directives that influence the rulemaking process during the final months of a presidency.  The letter points out that “these new rules are too controversial to have been adopted earlier and result in last minute giveaways to special interests or intentionally ties the hands of a newly-elected president.”

The Speaker and Leader noted that “the number of economically significant federal rules, defined as those having an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more, has increased significantly” during the Obama administration and that the White House “has also promulgated controversial rules which are designed to circumvent the express will of the Congress.” They noted their concern about the administration’s effect on economic growth and, in particular, small businesses, citing a 2011 report by the administration’s own Office of Management and Budget: “[r]egulations can also impose significant costs on businesses, dampening economic competition and capital investment.”

The full text of the letter follows:

April 11, 2012

boehner-mcconnell 2.jpgThe Honorable Barack Obama

The President

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

Washington, D.C. 20500-0005

Dear Mr. President:

It has come to our attention that statements you made in your 2012 State of the Union address with respect to federal regulations administered during your presidency were misleading. Although you may have promulgated slightly fewer rules in your first 33 months than the previous Administration, the number of economically significant federal rules, defined as those having an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more, has increased significantly. Your Administration has also promulgated controversial rules which are designed to circumvent the express will of the Congress.

We are deeply concerned about the effect these regulations are having on economic growth and job creation in the country. Small businesses in particular are suffering because of these rules.  Nearly half of small-business owners blame potential health care costs and government regulations as reasons why they are not hiring new workers. These concerns were echoed in a 2011 report on the impact of regulations by your Office of Management & Budget, which acknowledged that “[r]egulations can also impose significant costs on businesses, dampening economic competition and capital investment.”

In a memorandum published in the Federal Register on January 26, 2009, you stated that your Administration is “committed to an unprecedented level of openness in Government.” You further promised to “ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration.”  This memorandum also extolled the virtue of accountability.

Despite this purported commitment to transparency, openness, and accountability, your Administration has not adhered to these principles while issuing regulations.  Moreover, we are concerned that as we approach the end of your current term, this commitment will be further undermined by a final push to issue a set of “midnight regulations,” with little opportunity for oversight.

“Midnight regulations” refers to the practice of finalizing rules, guidance, findings or other directives that influence the rulemaking process during the final months of a presidency.  Often times, these new rules are too controversial to have been adopted earlier and result in last minute giveaways to special interests or intentionally ties the hands of a newly-elected president.  In addition, such regulations may not be subject to the normal political checks and balances of the electorate and timely Congressional oversight.

We believe that issuing a raft of midnight regulations would be inconsistent with your January 2009 commitment to transparency and accountability in the rulemaking process.  Moreover, with the nation facing continued economic challenges, it would be ill-advised to issue a series of last minute controversial or economically significant regulations that would distract a new congress and potentially a new administration from focusing on jobs and the economy.  We ask, therefore, that you reaffirm your pledge to transparency, openness, and accountability by committing to withhold from issuing any economically significant or controversial “midnight regulations” after the current fiscal year ends on September 30, 2012.

Sincerely,

JOHN BOEHNER                          MITCH McCONNELL

SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE         SENATE REPUBLICAN LEADER

Download a copy of the Boehner/McConnell letter.

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Louisville.com's The Arena section features opinions from active participants in the city's politics. Their viewpoints are not those of Louisville.com (a website is an inanimate object and, as such, has no opinions).  The Arena is read by more people in Louisville than in any other city in America.

About Thomas McAdam
At various times I have been a student, a soldier, a college Political Science teacher, a political campaign treasurer, and legal adviser to Louisville's Police Department and Board of Aldermen. I now practice law and share my political opinions with anyone who will listen.
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