House GOP Plans To Use Congressional Review Act To Hassle Regulators Implementing Financial Reform

House Republicans have made it clear that they intend to use their new majority to launch an assault on the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory reform law. Of course, due to the Democratic Senate and President, outright repeal of the law is a pipe dream, but that won’t prevent the GOP from hassling regulators as they attempt to craft rules under Dodd-Frank.

Dodd-Frank delegates much of its rule authority to regulators, so Republicans have been targeting them in an attempt to politicize and delay their rule-making activities. To that end, Bloomberg is reporting that House Republicans plan to use the Congressional Review Act of 1996 to try and cow regulators into submission:

One procedure being considered by House Republicans is a little-used “resolution of disapproval,” through the 1996 Congressional Review Act, which can be deployed to target a specific regulation. “We are committed to conducting aggressive oversight to bring the Administration’s actions to light,” said Alabama Representative Spencer Bachus, the Republican in line to be chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. “The Congressional Review Act should be a tool for Congress to use to demand greater efficiency and accountability throughout the federal bureaucracy.”

Such a move doesn’t have much chance of success, as under the Congressional Review Act, a regulation is only blunted if both congressional chambers pass a resolution of disapproval, which the President then signs. But “a threatened resolution of disapproval might force the agencies to rethink what they are doing,” said Jeffrey Lubbers, an administrative law professor at American University. “Just the fact that it hasn’t been used all that much, people notice it.”


Earlier this year, Republicans in the Senate tried the same tactic — led by Sen. Johnny Iskason (R-GA) — when the National Mediation Board approved a rule they didn’t like. Isakson couldn’t drum up 51 votes in the Senate for his resolution, but its easy to see how a resolution disapproving of a Dodd-Frank rule would sail through a Republican-controlled House.

Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL), the potential House Financial Services Chairman, as well as likely House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrel Issa (R-CA), have said that they will also “lean heavily on investigations and hearings to rein in parts of the new law they deem too restrictive on the banking industry.” So this is what regulators attempting to implement Dodd-Frank have to look forward to: resolutions of disapproval and constant hassling by House Republicans who, while powerless to actually change the law, can make life miserable for those trying to follow it.Read more in yesterday’s Progress Report, “The Assault on Wall Street Reform.”