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Bill to Ease Path for Repeal of Obama-Era Education Regulations Advances

By Andrew Ujifusa — January 05, 2017 1 min read
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Republicans in Congress are already targeting several education-related regulations adopted under President Barack Obama. A bill recently passed by the House could make that job a lot easier.

On Wednesday, the House passed the Midnight Rule Relief Act, which would amend the Congressional Review Act by allowing Congress to overturn simultaneously multiple regulations finalized in the last 60 days of a presidential administration, according to the Hill newspaper. (Hat-tip to David DeSchryver of Whiteboard Advisors for highlighting this for us.)

The Congressional Review Act already allows for Congress to dump such regulations. But the legislation would make the process easier, from a Republican perspective, by allowing Congress to get rid of those rules in “batches” (as one commenter in the Hill puts it) and therefore more efficiently. The Midnight Rule Relief Act, co-sponsored by 14 GOP House lawmakers, was still awaiting action by the Senate as of mid-day Thursday. But it is clearly intended for President-elect Donald Trump to sign once he takes office. Democrats say the bill is being acted upon too quickly and could hurt protections on various fronts.

The Hill reported that it’s the second time in two months the House has approved the bill—the new session of Congress started Jan. 3.

Recently, we reported that the House Freedom Caucus of tea party Republicans has the Obama administration’s rules for school nutrition in its crosshairs. They also have pointed to the administration’s guidance on transgender students as something they want to eliminate.

And leading Republicans in the Senate have also indicated they’re interested in getting rid of the accountability rules for the Every Student Succeeds Act and teacher preparation rules from the U.S. Department of Education.

Keep in mind, however, that if the Congressional Review Act is used to overturn a regulation, the administration can’t issue similar rules until there’s new authorizing legislation. But just how, or whether, that would block Trump’s Education Department from writing its own accountability rules to replace what the Obama’s administration came up with, for example, is unclear.

We’re still waiting for the Obama administration to issue a final rule on the controversial supplement-not-supplant spending provision of ESSA. But when (or if) it does, expect Republicans to target that rule, too.

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