Congressional Review of Agency Rulemaking: An Update and Assessment of The Congressional Review Act after a Decade [Updated May 8, 2008]   [open pdf - 256KB]

From the Summary: "On March 29, 1996, the President signed into law the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (SBREFA), P.L. [Public Law] 104-121, 110 Stat. 857-874, Subtitle E of which for the first time established a mechanism by which Congress can review and disapprove, by means of an expedited legislative process, virtually all federal agency rules. However, critics have questioned the efficacy of the review scheme as a vehicle to control agency rulemaking through the exercise of legislative oversight. These questions have been raised despite the use of the CRA [Congressional Review Act] to nullify OSHA's [Occupational Safety and Health Administration's] controversial ergonomics standards in March 2001. In the view of some observers, the OSHA action was the result of a unique confluence of circumstances not likely to soon recur: the White House and both Houses of Congress in the hands of the same political party, a contentious rule promulgated in the waning days of an outgoing Administration; longstanding opposition to the rule by some in Congress and by a broad coalition of business interests; and encouragement of repeal by the President. On the other hand, some maintain that a number of major rules have been affected by the Agency recognition of the existence of the review mechanism, and argue that the review scheme has had a significant influence. […]This report will provide a brief explanation of how the structure of the review scheme was expected to operate and describes how it has in fact been utilized. The possible reasons for the relatively limited use of the formal mechanism thus far are assessed. This report will be updated as warranted."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RL30116
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