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Walberg, Ernst, Johnson Introduce Bill to Block Costly Lame Duck Regulations

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Congressman Tim Walberg (R-MI), U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), and U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) introduced bicameral legislation to prevent a surge in costly federal regulations as a United States President’s term comes to a close. The Midnight Rule Relief Act would protect hard working families and small businesses from significant regulations that are often politically motivated and imposed between Election Day and Inauguration Day.

Regardless of political party, midnight regulations have noticeably increased during the transition time between new administrations. According to data from the American Action Forum (AAF) and the Mercatus Center , midnight regulations nearly doubled in 2000 and 2008 from the non-midnight average. This heavy-handed approach to rulemaking puts a strain on the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), the entity directly responsible for overseeing the quality of regulatory analysis, which has a staff of around 45 people.

According to research done by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), government regulations and red tape rank as one of the most important issue facing small businesses. The $600 billion (as cited by AAF) in new major regulations this Administration has issued since 2009 only adds to the uncertainty and uneasiness our job creators are feeling.

“Given the Obama administration’s tendency to overregulate and overreach, the American people can expect to see a surge of last minute regulations in the President’s waning days in office,” said Congressman Walberg. “This bill will hold outgoing administrations in check and ensure small businesses in Michigan and across the country aren’t faced with a new onslaught of excessive regulations that stifle wages, job creation, and economic growth. It’s time to say goodnight to midnight regulations—from both parties.”

“Effective oversight and quality analysis of Washington’s burdensome regulations is essential at all times; and careful review during the final days of a president’s term should not be any different,” said Senator Ernst. “Our legislation would prevent hasty – and at times, politically motivated – analyses, which could ultimately lead to poor oversight and increased public costs for job creators and taxpayers. Ultimately, this bill improves transparency and accountability in our federal government to ensure the American people have a voice in how regulations with a $100 million or more price tag impact our economy and livelihood.”

"Presidents of both parties have ?consistently attempted to push through regulations during the last few weeks and months of their administrations,” said Senator Johnson. “This bill provides some basic accountability and ensures a president cannot impose a surge of new rules on the American economy as he exits office."

This concept has been raised by both Republicans and Democrats. Senator Harry Reid and Congressman Jerry Nadler, for example, introduced bills in 2009 that opposed midnight rules from going into effect in the closing days of the Bush Administration.

House cosponsors of the bill include: Reps. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), Blake Farenthold (R-TX), Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Jody Hice (R-GA), Lynn Jenkins (R-KS), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), Reid Ribble (R-WI), and Lamar Smith (R-TX).

About the Midnight Rule Relief Act:

• Establishes a moratorium period beginning on the day after the election through the inauguration on new regulations that cost the economy $100 million or more annually, or result in major cost or price increases for consumers, industries, or government agencies.
• Includes exceptions for rules that are necessary for imminent health or safety threats, enforcement of criminal laws, and national security.
• Exempts rules that are limited to repealing existing regulations.