- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 5, 2017

President Obama has issued 145 “midnight” regulations with a cost of more than $21 billion since the election of Donald Trump, the most by a lame-duck president in a generation, a study has found.

The conservative American Action Forum said Thursday that Mr. Obama’s rules, issued from Nov. 8 through Dec. 31, include 31 “economically significant” regulations with a cost of at least $100 million each.

“The administration has published more than 21 million hours of final federal paperwork requirements since November 8,” said Sam Batkins, AAF’s director of regulatory policy. “At the current pace, the Obama administration is going to be the most active ‘midnight’ (period from Election Day to Inauguration Day) regulator in more than a generation.”

The Republican-majority House on Wednesday passed the Midnight Rules Relief Act by a vote of 238-184. It would amend the Congressional Review Act to allow Congress to repeal any regulations finalized in the last 60 legislative days of an administration under a single disapproval resolution.

The measure now goes to the Senate for consideration.

The House also on Thursday passed the REINS Act, a bill that would require any executive branch rule or regulation with an annual economic impact of $100 million or more to come before Congress for an up-or-down vote before being enacted.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, California Republican, said this week that Republicans would roll back one rule reducing methane emissions and another intended to blunt the environmental impact of coal mining on streams.

The House Education and the Workforce Committee said Thursday that among the major Obama rules targeted for repeal are regulations to expand overtime pay, a K-12 education proposal to ensure that federal funds for low-income students don’t replace state and local dollars, and a fiduciary rule for investment advisers.

AAF said the administration released 99 regulations last month, including 19 economically significant measures, both records for 2016. “December’s regulatory output eclipsed every December in more than a generation, since 1993,” Mr. Batkins said. “The pace in December has increased to 4.5 regulations per day, or roughly double the average daily output.”

From January to November of 2016, the average monthly regulatory output was 46, he said.

“It has more than doubled in December, despite holiday work schedules,” Mr. Batkins said. “This is a result of politics and the desire to cement as many regulatory priorities as possible, not the status quo policy of the preceding 11 months.”

AAF said among the most costly rules implemented within the past two months are requirements for commercial vehicle operators, $3.6 billion annually; a rule on natural gas flaring on public lands, $2.37 billion; renewable fuels standard, $1.55 billion; a regulation on drug and alcohol clearinghouses, $1.35 billion; a stream protection rule, $1.2 billion; and regulations on liquidity risk management programs, $855 million.

Administration officials have said most of the rules being implemented have been in the development stages for months or years. President-elect Donald Trump has warned the administration not to unleash a flurry of last-minute regulations, saying he would rescind two regulations for every new rule implemented by the Obama administration.

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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