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Congressional Review Act Has Been a Constant Threat to Safeguards as Agencies Work Hard to Beat the Lookback Date

For Immediate Release: March 5, 2024

Contact: David Rosen,

WASHINGTON, D.C. – With the Congressional Review Act’s (CRA) lookback deadline likely to fall sometime before summer, federal agencies are rightly working hard to finalize important regulatory safeguards to protect them from repeal by the next Congress, the Coalition for Sensible Safeguards said today.

The CRA allows Congress by a simple majority vote in both chambers – with limited debate and no possibility of a filibuster – to overturn recently issued regulations, so long as the president does not veto the resolution of disapproval. Congress has voted on at least one resolution of disapproval every month since February 2023, except during the August 2023 recess, illustrating the persistence of the threat to regulatory protections.

Importantly, the underlying law contains a lookback provision that allows a new Congress to use the CRA’s expedited process to strike down rules passed in the final months of the previous administration. However, the exact date of the lookback period is unknowable until the current Congress ends. Typically, it falls in April, May, or June. Rules finalized after that date can be targeted for repeal not only in the current Congress but also in the opening months of the next one.

“The threat the CRA poses to regulatory safeguards has been present throughout the current Congress, so federal agencies are smart to take the lookback deadline seriously, even if we can’t know the exact date,” said Rachel Weintraub, executive director of the Coalition for Sensible Safeguards, which for years has tracked CRA resolutions of disapproval. “The CRA’s threat to the public’s health, safety, and wellbeing is clear and ever-present.”

According to the coalition’s tracker, at least 38 rules have been targeted for repeal this Congress, 15 of which have faced votes on the House or Senate floor. The targeted rules protect small businesses, workers, consumers, students, veterans, investors, people of color, clean air, clean water, renewable energy, wildlife, and gun safety, among others.

A total of 12 resolutions have passed in the House, while 10 have passed in the Senate. In addition, four resolutions that received votes failed in the Senate. President Biden has vetoed nine CRA resolutions, preventing any of the rules targeted so far from being repealed. The Senate has unsuccessfully attempted to override four of these resolutions. If a CRA resolution of disapproval becomes law, the targeted rule is void and can have no effect.