As moving trucks arrive at the White House, Republicans are rigging Obama's regulations to blow. On Wednesday night, the House passed the Midnight Rules Relief Act, the first major regulatory reform bill in decades.
Designed for mass demolition, the legislation allows lawmakers to wire together multiple regulations and revoke them at once. While Republicans will have to wait for Trump's signature, the move shows how serious Speaker Ryan and company are about exploding Obama's regulatory legacy.
Since Election Day, the outgoing administration has been busy finalizing numerous last-minute regulations. While the White House has used executive action to nail down policy, Obama has also set trip wires to ensnare the president-elect politically. The new legislation, which passed 238 to 184, would allow Congress to clear much of that minefield.
Currently lawmakers must rely on the clumsy and seldom-used Congressional Review Act to roll back regulation. That parliamentary tool allows Congress 60 days to either approve or veto a rule. A relic of the Contract with America, it's been used only once since 1996. That's about to change.
If policy wonks were gearheads, the Midnight Rules Act would be an aftermarket supercharger that kicks the Congressional Rules Act into high gear. It gives Congress the power to disapprove of an infinite number of last-minute regulations with a single vote.
Republicans could use the act to reopen Arctic waters for drilling, restart the Dakota Access Pipeline and reverse the federal government's Western land grab. There's something for everyone on the right to like.
As a matter of principle, it allows Congress to claw back authority from runaway administrative agencies. The immediate political ramifications are obvious. The act gives Trump some breathing room. He can sweep aside much of his predecessor's work and begin quickly focusing on his own agenda.
If Majority Leader McConnell and Senate Republicans follow the example of their house colleagues, there will be fireworks during Trump's first 100 days.
Philip Wegmann is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.