Republicans to kill U.S. rules on corruption, environment, labor and guns next week

By Lisa Lambert |

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Congressional Republicans are set to overturn a slew of Obama-era regulations next week, including a controversial anti-bribery rule aimed at U.S. resource companies such as Exxon Mobil Corp and Chevron Corp , according to a top lawmaker.

After six years of legal battles, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in June approved the rule requiring companies to disclose payments to foreign governments. It will probably be killed swiftly with two simple congressional votes.

Other rules eyed for quick overturning by Congress include newly minted environmental, gun control and labor relations measures, sources said.

Under the Congressional Review Act, Congress can use simple majority votes to stop recent regulations in their tracks. The timing in the law means that any rules that became final after May 31 could go on the chopping block.

House of Representatives Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the second-most powerful Republican in the chamber, had said he would start using that law quickly after President Donald Trump was inaugurated to help roll back regulations the party considers abusive. House Republicans have been on a blitz of regulatory reform, passing bills to drive down regulations’ costs and create more congressional oversight.

The Republican-dominated House will bypass the committee process and go directly to a vote by the entire chamber on a half-dozen resolutions, McCarthy’s spokesman said on Wednesday.

Further rule reversals are likely to come out of various committees, Representative Greg Walden, a Republican from Oregon, said on Tuesday.

Given the resolutions only require simple majorities to pass, they will probably sail through the House and then pass the Senate, where Democrats, the minority party, cannot mount a filibuster against them. They could then zoom to the White House for fellow Republican Trump to sign.

But Walden also said the Congressional Review Act broadly wipes out entire regulations and forbids agencies from writing new versions in their place. That could be dangerous for a rule with some provisions that Republicans support, he said.

Earlier this month, McCarthy said the House would try to kill regulations protecting streams and forests from coal mining’s impacts, curbing methane leaks on public lands, and requiring employers to report workers’ information as part of an attempt to end pay discrimination.

Reforming regulations is as high a priority as undoing the Affordable Care Act and rewriting the tax code, he said.

In a Wall Street Journal opinion piece on Wednesday, he also added a rule expanding background checks on gun purchases for disabled Social Security recipients to the hit list, as well as the anti-bribery regulation.

Requiring companies to state publicly how much they pay governments in taxes, royalties and other types of fees for exploration and extraction was included in the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law. Regulators struggled for years to make it a reality as the companies said it would drive up their costs.

Human rights group Oxfam in 2014 sued the SEC when it stalled on drafting the rule, and in 2015 a federal judge ordered the commission to fast-track it. The commission met the judge’s deadline this summer, with the requirements set to take effect in 2018.


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