The Daily Brew: Congress to review 5 rules under CRA

Welcome to the Wednesday, March 31, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Democrats introduce 5 CRA resolutions to reject Trump administration rules
  2. Judge strikes down 5% signature requirement for some U.S. House candidates in GA
  3. Kim Janey sworn in as acting Boston mayor

Democrats introduce 5 CRA resolutions to reject Trump administration rules

Democratic members of Congress have introduced five resolutions under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to review federal rules issued during the recent Trump administration. The CRA allows Congress to vote on rejecting regulatory rules that federal administrative agencies have issued. 

Here’s how the process works. To reject a rule, both chambers of Congress have to pass a resolution disapproving the rule. CRA resolutions are not subject to filibuster, meaning only a simple majority is required to pass them. President Joe Biden would then have to sign the resolution into law. Congress has until Apr 4, 2021, under the CRA to reject any regulatory rules the Trump administration issued after Aug. 21, 2020. 

Since the CRA’s enactment in 1996, Congress has repealed 17 out of the more than 90,000 rules published in the Federal Register. Sixteen of those instances occurred during the Trump administration. In 2001, during George W. Bush’s (R) presidency, Congress reversed an Occupational Safety and Health Administration rule issued during Bill Clinton’s (D) presidency. 

Here’s a summary of the rules each current resolution seeks to block. To learn more about each, including arguments for and against, click the links:

  • Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D-Ill.) introduced companion resolutions to block an October 2020 rule from the U.S. Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). The rule aims to determine when banks are the true lender in situations where banks provide the money for third-party organizations to extend credit to borrowers. 
  • Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Delegate Michael F.Q. San Nicolas (D-Guam) introduced companion resolutions to block a November 2020 rule from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The rule changed regulations governing shareholder proposal submissions. 
  • Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) introduced companion resolutions to block an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule from September 2020. The resolution would restore the Obama administration’s methane standards that the EPA reversed during the Trump administration. 
  • Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) introduced companion resolutions to block an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) rule changing the conciliation process, which is an alternative to litigation. 
  • Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) introduced a resolution to block a rule from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that sets expiration dates for HHS regulations unless the agency reviews those regulations according to Regulatory Flexibility Act requirements. As of March 30, no companion resolution had been filed in the Senate.

Want to learn more about this legislation? Sign up today for our Learning Journey on the Congressional Review Act. 

Read on

Judge strikes down 5% signature requirement for some U.S. House candidates in GA

On March 29, U.S. District Court Judge Leigh Martin May struck down a Georgia law requiring third-party and unaffiliated U.S. House candidates to submit petitions signed by at least 5% of the district’s registered voters. May ruled the requirement “overburdens [voters’ and candidates’] rights to vote and to associate with their preferred political party, and so it violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments.”

Under Georgia’s 5% signature requirement, originally enacted in 1943, no third-party candidate for the U.S. House has qualified for the general election ballot. In 2020, third-party or unaffiliated candidates would have needed between 19,777 and 26,539 signatures in order to qualify for the ballot (the number varies by congressional district). 

Those running for the U.S. House as Democrats or Republicans—the two parties Georgia officially recognizes—do not need to collect signatures if they pay a qualifying fee. Third-party and unaffiliated candidates must do both.

May contrasted the 5% signature requirement for U.S. House candidates with the 1% requirement for statewide candidates, saying the state legislature “has deemed a 1% petition signature requirement adequate to guard against ballot crowding and frivolous candidacies on a statewide basis. It is not immediately clear why candidates for non-statewide office must clear a proportionally higher hurdle.” 

May directed the plaintiffs—the Libertarian Party of Georgia—to submit a brief on proposed remedies within three weeks. The state will then have an opportunity to respond to this proposal before May issues further guidance. 

All but five states require unaffiliated U.S. House candidates to submit signature petitions.

Read on

Kim Janey sworn in as acting Boston mayor

Kim Janey became the acting mayor of Boston on Mar. 22, after the U.S. Senate confirmed former Mayor Marty Walsh as secretary of labor. Janey is the first Black person and first woman to serve as Boston mayor.

Janey is president of the Boston City Council and its District 7 councilor and will maintain those roles as acting mayor. According to the Boston Herald, Janey will be a ‘non-participating member’ of the council — meaning she won’t attend meetings.”

Boston will hold a regularly scheduled mayoral election on Nov. 2. The filing deadline is May 18. Janey has not yet announced whether she will run in the election. 

While municipal offices in Boston are officially nonpartisan, Janey is a member of the Boston Ward 12 Democratic Committee. Before serving as secretary of labor and mayor, Walsh was a Democratic member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives.

According to 2013 Census Bureau data, Boston was the 24th-largest city in the U.S. with around 646,000 residents. Among the mayors of the country’s 100 largest cities, there are currently 64 Democrats, 25 Republicans, four independents, and seven who are not affiliated with either party.

Read on