FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
It’s Time For Congress To Act Like A Branch Of Government
The Congressional Review Act (5 USC 818-808) passed both houses of Congress in 1995 and was signed into law. It allows the US Congress to pass a resolution of disapproval any time it doesn’t want a major regulatory reform or ruling to go into effect. This would apply directly to the HHS contraception mandate that Secretary Kathleen Sibelius handed down earlier this month. Here’s how the process works.
The agency submits the rule to both Congress and the Comptroller General. Each house of Congress than sends the report to its committees to determine what changes need to be made to existing law to accommodate the new regulations. Or, the Congress can do something else. They can refuse to change existing law to accommodate the new regulation. They can, in fact, pass a joint resolution of disapproval and kill the new regulation. The USC reads as follows.
For purposes of this section, the term “joint resolution” means only a joint resolution introduced in the period beginning on the date on which the report referred to in section 801 (a)(1)(A) is received by Congress and ending 60 days thereafter (excluding days either House of Congress is adjourned for more than 3 days during a session of Congress), the matter after the resolving clause of which is as follows: “That Congress disapproves the rule submitted by the XX relating to XX, and such rule shall have no force or effect.” (The blank spaces being appropriately filled in).
Interestingly enough, the law enabling Congress to pick this mandate off was passed in conjunction with The Contract With America. There is a candidate in the GOP Primaries this year who should have at least a nodding familiarity with The Contract With America. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich won the Speakership running on its ideals.
If he wanted to gain some really rapid traction prior to Super Tuesday, he should be reminding the GOP-controlled House that his legislation made it possible. He should be riding this out on the campaign trail like a tricked-out Harley.
The House GOP could bring this up by next week. They could whip their caucus, pass it in a day and dump this hand grenade right in Senate Majority Leader Reid’s lap before we even reach the Ides of March. The Senate GOP would need the signatures of 30 supporters to force it on to the Senate Calendar for an up-and-down majority vote. No filibusters apply. Former Congressman David McIntosh describes the law below.
The Congressional Review Act (CRA), which I authored while serving in Congress, gives legislators 60 days to introduce Resolutions of Disapproval to nullify a rule after it has been published. The Resolutions of Disapproval enjoy expedited procedures and therefore serve as the perfect tool for Congress to move expeditiously to make Team Obama’s unconstitutional rule history. The law allows 30 senators to discharge any committee action and bring it to the Senate floor, where it can be passed with a majority vote after no more than five hours of debate.
But meanwhile, this option goes ignored. The rule will take effect by the end of March and the opportunity to stop this in its tracks will go by the wayside. Unless, of course, we all think something different…. Congress made a Contract with America in 1994. They passed legislation as if they were intending to honor said document.
We can attempt to make this Congress do its job properly, against its will. Go to the House of Representatives Website. It has an app that allows you to find your Congressman’s website and contact info. From there, you can contact these people and tell them you expect a Resolution of Disapproval to emerge from the House of Representatives and you expect it out of there prior to March 15. It’s time for Congress to start behaving as if it were an independent branch of government and putting the brakes on the Obama Administration.