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Congressman Bob Goodlatte

Congressman Bob Goodlatte’s Weekly Column: November 25, 2016
Putting a Curfew on Midnight Rules
By Congressman Bob Goodlatte
Washington, DC (Nov. 25, 2016) -

It’s no surprise – as the end of a president’s term in office approaches, a wave of new federal rules and regulations tends to start rolling down Pennsylvania Avenue. This influx of “midnight rules” is one of the most frustrating problems in Washington’s overreaching regulatory system. Administration after administration, there is a spike in activity as the clock on a president’s time in office approaches the stroke of midnight. This is true particularly between Election Day and Inauguration Day, but it is also true even before then.

Midnight rules are troubling because outgoing Administrations, no longer accountable to the voters, issue a slew of politically motivated rules. Recently, I joined with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and all House committee chairmen in sending a letter to officials in the Obama Administration urging them to halt finalization of pending rules during the Administration’s final days. We made it clear that there will be consequences if they continue this practice.

America needs a solution to guard against midnight rules. The Midnight Rules Relief Act passed by the House of Representatives offers a simple and powerful means to stop the problem of abusive midnight rules. This bill, which went through the Judiciary Committee, creates a rapid-response method for Congress to overturn an outgoing Administration’s attempts to impose major regulations without appropriate transparency and scrutiny. The bill specifically allows Congress to overturn multiple midnight rules thereby empowering Congress to more quickly stop the rules that are truly problematic. Rules that defy the message sent by the voters or rules that have been poorly and hastily designed have no place on the books.

The Obama Administration has imposed more runaway regulations than any other in memory, and these final weeks are likely to be no exception. This Administration has issued or plans to issue at least 180 midnight rules that would fall within the scope of this bill, including multiple billion-dollar rules and more than 20 major rules imposing $100 million or more in costs per year. It has been estimated that at least as many as $113 billion in new regulatory costs can be attributed to the final months of this Administration’s rulemaking activity.

The Midnight Rules Relief Act would serve as a check on any president. It is truly a better way to govern, and that is why this reform is featured in the House’s “Better Way” agenda. Implementing various rules and regulations that help protect families, workers, and our environment are an important part of the federal government’s job. However, these must be done in an open, transparent way with a focus on smart, common sense actions, not on the way out the door. Putting costly, partisan regulations in the fast lane for approval does a disservice to the American people. I urge the Obama Administration to get on board, and put an end to midnight rules.

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