‘Due Process under the law.’
That’s the cornerstone of the American legal system and with a 49-48 vote Monday night on a Senate resolution, the United States Congress helped ensure it would remain as such for all businesses seeking government contracts.
In the latest in a series of votes by the Republican Congress to overturn and undo last-minute Obama Administration rules and regulations. This particular resolution; pushed through by Wisconsin U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R-Oshkosh), targeted what’s been called “The Blacklist Rule.”
“The Blacklist Rule” is one of many “moonlight regulations” put into place last-minute by President Obama prior to leaving office in January.
The rule – initially proposed via a 2014 executive order, was blocked in 2016 by a U.S. district court judge in Texas – required all companies seeking government contracts report any labor law violations, or even allegations of violations, in their bid. The result; according to critics, was a heavy-handed regulation favoring organized labor and encroaching on many small business owners’ due process rights where regulators would assume “guilt by allegation” without proof. By killing off the regulation, congressional Republicans believe they will save American companies nearly $400 million in compliance costs with the rule is off the books.
“Overturning this harmful rule will reduce the regulatory burden plaguing our economy,” said Chairman [Ron] Johnson. “This rule could potentially be used to blackmail innocent businesses during labor negotiations. The Obama administration admitted that this rule would cost at least $398 million each year to comply with, but failed to quantify any benefit whatsoever. Repealing this rule is a step in the right direction by providing the regulatory relief that is necessary to unleash the American economy so that it can realize its full potential.
All this was made possible by use of a rarely-used law passed in 1996. The Congressional Review Act allows simple majorities of both houses of Congress to pass joint resolutions which can overturn recently announced rules and regulations from the federal bureaucracy to express their disapproval. Congress has 60 legislative days (days Congress is in session) once they’ve been notified of the new rule in writing.
These resolutions becoming binding if signed by a sitting president. President Trump is expected to sign this resolution any day now.
House and Senate Republican leadership has used this avenue of regulatory rollback on a handful of regulations from the Departments of Interior and Labor, and agencies like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) has publicly stated he hopes to rollback nearly 40 more Obama regulations via the Congressional Review Act in the coming in the future.