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Thune: Republicans Hold Biden Administration Accountable for Overreaching Regulations

“[A]s we move forward, Republicans will continue to use the Congressional Review Act to push back against overreaching regulations from the Biden administration.”

June 14, 2023

Click here to watch the video.

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today discussed the Republican-led efforts to overturn some of the Biden administration’s egregious policies through the Congressional Review Act, a tool that can be used to check overreaching executive branch regulatory power. Thune noted that this year alone, nine resolutions of disapproval of Biden administration regulations have all passed with bipartisan support.

Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):

“Mr. President, when it comes to what’s happening in Washington, D.C., it’s often the legislation Congress is considering that gets the lion’s share of the attention.


“But just as significant are the regulations being put out by the executive branch.


“Regulations may not seem as significant as legislation, but they can have just as far-reaching an effect as any law, and can radically shift federal policy.


“And a look at a presidential administration’s regulations can tell you a lot about that administration’s approach to government.


“Over the past two-plus years, the Biden administration has built a record of regulation that reflects its big-government, big-spending priorities.


“Take the president’s student loan giveaway, which, if the ‘forgiveness’ portion is not overturned by the Supreme Court, is set to cost taxpayers nearly $1 trillion in all over the next decade.


“Or take his overreaching Waters of the United States rule, which, if enforced, would give the federal government sweeping jurisdiction over most water features on private property, including things like irrigation ditches, ephemeral streams, and even prairie potholes.


“The ability to create regulations gives a presidential administration a lot of power – and the ability to do a lot of damage.


“Checks do exist on the regulatory power, however.


“And one check is provided by the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to pass resolutions of disapproval that repeal the regulations in question.


“Now, the president still has to sign the resolution for it to go into effect, or else two-thirds majorities in both houses of Congress have to override his veto.


“But the tool can be used to check excessive use of regulatory power.


“And Senate Republicans have been making regular use of the Congressional Review Act this Congress to attempt to address some egregious Biden administration regulations.


“We’ve passed nine resolutions of disapproval of Biden administration actions so far this year, every single one of which has been bipartisan – which goes to show just how extreme the actions in question are.


“I mentioned Senator Capito’s resolution to overturn the administration’s Waters of the United States rule – an Obama-era relic resurrected by the Biden Environmental Protection Agency.


“As I mentioned, if enforced, this rule would give the federal government jurisdiction over a vast number of water features on private property, including things like irrigation ditches and even prairie potholes.


“Farmers, ranchers, and other private landowners could see parts of their land rendered useless for months while the federal government determines what restrictions to impose.


“Landowners could also be faced with huge compliance costs – and the value of their land could plummet.


“I say ‘if enforced,’ Mr. President.


“While nine Democrats in the House and five in the Senate joined Republicans to pass a resolution disapproving the president’s WOTUS rule, the president vetoed the resolution.


“But in a victory for landowners, the Supreme Court recently ruled to clarify and limit the federal government’s reach under the Clean Water Act, which effectively overturns the president’s WOTUS rule.


“I also mentioned the president’s student loan giveaway.


“The ‘forgiveness’ part of the president’s student loan giveaway would cost taxpayers somewhere in the neighborhood of half a trillion dollars over the next decade.


“And the president’s legal authority to unilaterally forgive student debt is extremely dubious.


“Not to mention how unfair it is to ask the many Americans who worked hard to pay off their loans – or who never pursued college in the first place – to take on the burden of student debt for individuals who took out loans for college or graduate school, and agreed to pay them back. 


“With Senator Cassidy’s leadership in the Senate, Republicans in the House and Senate– joined by a handful of Democrats – passed a resolution disapproving of the administration’s student loan forgiveness overreach.


“But the president vetoed it.


“However, the president’s ‘forgiveness’ plan could still be overruled by the Supreme Court, which is set to release its decision on two student loan forgiveness cases as soon as this week.


“Mr. President, another terrible Biden administration regulation that Republicans, through Senator Braun’s efforts, have attempted to check is the president’s rule that allows pension plan fiduciaries – the individuals who manage Americans’ retirement accounts – to consider so-called environmental, social, and governance factors and not just the rate of return when investing their customers’ money.


“In other words, the individuals who manage $11.7 trillion of Americans’ retirement are no longer required to make investment decisions based solely on maximizing return.


“Instead, they will now be allowed to opt for a less valuable investment if they prefer its environmental profile.


“House and Senate Republicans passed a resolution disapproving of this rule.


“But unfortunately the president vetoed it, meaning that for now retirees may have to accept that environmental goals can come ahead of giving them a secure retirement.


“But it was important to bring attention to this regulation – one of a number of radical environmental regulations from the Biden administration.


“Mr. President, Senate Republicans have also passed resolutions from Senators Mullin and Marshall addressing Biden administration overuse of the Endangered Species Act.


“A resolution from Senator Lummis addressing the administration’s expansive new definition of critical habitat, which could have major negative consequences for landowners and businesses.


“A resolution from Senator Fischer disapproving of an EPA rule on truck emissions that could drive some smaller trucking companies out of business entirely.


“And more.


“And we have more resolutions of disapproval in the pipeline.


“Mr. President, while unfortunately President Biden has predictably vetoed attempts to check his administration’s aggressive use of federal power, we have had some successes.


“When Senator Capito announced her intention to challenge a Federal Highway Administration memo discouraging states from pursuing highway expansion projects and prioritizing funding for projects that reduce emissions, the Federal Highway Administration withdrew the memo and issued a revised version without the problematic language, a win for infrastructure investments in rural areas.


“And, as I mentioned, while the president vetoed the resolution disapproving of his overreaching Waters of the United States rule, the Supreme Court’s recent decision effectively overturning this regulation is a win for farmers, ranchers, and other landowners – and for common sense.


“And while it wasn’t a Biden administration regulation, Senator Hagerty led a successful charge in the Senate to overturn Washington, D.C.’s, crime bill weakening penalties for a number of crimes.


“Congress, of course, has the legal authority to block D.C. ordinances thanks to federal legislation rooted in the Constitution, which gives Congress legislative jurisdiction over the seat of the U.S. government – namely, Washington, D.C.


“And Republicans’ effort to overturn D.C.’s dangerous new crime bill ultimately persuaded the president to change his mind and sign the resolution of disapproval.


“Mr. President, as we move forward, Republicans will continue to use the Congressional Review Act to push back against overreaching regulations from the Biden administration.


“We may not always be successful, but at the very least we can highlight the true cost of the Biden administration’s regulations – and the burdens they place on our economy and on hardworking Americans.


“Mr. President, I yield the floor.”