The binding of the Federal Register has been bursting at the seams for the past eight years. As we enter the final month of the year, the official journal of federal agency rules, proposed rules and public notices is well over 81,000 pages – a record. For perspective, the 80,000-page mark has only been eclipsed three other times—2010, 2011 and 2015—all years President Obama was in office.
As we approach the last weeks of the Obama administration, there is growing concern that this year’s final page count will explode with a flurry of last minute rules. “Midnight regulations”—as these are often called—are a lame duck president’s last chance to push agenda items through the regulatory process.
This concern is valid based on the administration’s long track record of executive overreach. Take for example, the president’s attempt to grant amnesty to thousands of illegal immigrants through executive order. It was such a blatant abuse of executive power that the Supreme Court stepped in to block the administration from carrying it out.
From labor to energy, health care to water quality, President Obama has consistently gone around Congress in an effort to legislate his agenda out of federal agency offices. This approach has been a trademark of his administration. In fact, when historians look back at President Obama’s legacy years from now, his abuse of the regulatory process should take center stage. His proclivity to regulate, in a large part, poisoned the well for any legitimate bipartisan attempts to resolve some of the nation’s most pressing issues.
While we can all find merits in regulations that improve the quality of life for all Americans, we entrust the government to make sensible regulations that do not encroach on our freedoms. Unfortunately, excessive regulations are not only encroaching on our freedoms, but they are preventing any economic recovery from taking hold.
The regulatory atmosphere created by the Obama administration has been a wet blanket on economic growth. Overbearing, excessive regulations take farmers away from tending to their crops, slow the lines at the manufacturing plants and sap resources that could otherwise be put toward hiring more Americans. Someone who normally would be doing work that creates revenue is taken off task for a considerable amount of time to fill out paperwork. These days, it seems the only new employees a business is looking to hire are compliance officers—not employees that can help expand and grow their operation.
The country will be watching the regulations generated by the Obama administration in its final weeks with a keen eye. As our election showed, Americans are eager for a change in the way Washington operates. A continuation of the Obama administration’s heavy-handed regulatory practices would run counter to what Americans are demanding. My colleagues in Congress and I stand ready to push back on potential “midnight regulations” that seek to continue the Obama administration’s failed agenda. We are committed to restoring common sense to the regulatory process and correct the mistakes caused by the Obama administration’s abuses.