GAO Report Rejects McConnell’s Latest Attack on Public Safeguards

Capitol Building

On May 29, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report rejecting Sen. Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) latest ploy to stop EPA from moving forward with a proposed rule that would reduce carbon dioxide emissions from new power plants. In a desperate bid to kill the rule before EPA has even finished writing it, McConnell introduced a joint resolution of disapproval in January to utilize accelerated legislative procedures provided by the Congressional Review Act (CRA), even though the law only applies to final agency rules.

McConnell’s joint resolution to disapprove of EPA’s proposed rule not only conflicts with the plain language of the act, but would also set a dangerous precedent for all agency rules under development. Any member of Congress who dislikes any action an agency is planning to take could challenge the rule before the agency has even finished drafting it.

The GAO report affirms that the CRA only applies to final rules: “The terms of CRA, and its supporting legislative history . . . do not require agencies to submit proposed rules to GAO.” The report further noted that it would be “premature” to apply the CRA to proposed rules since “agencies could make significant changes in response to public comments.”

The Coalition for Sensible Safeguards (CSS) touted the GAO’s report as a rejection of McConnell’s bid to stymie safeguards and said it should put an end to such antics. The report also serves as a message to all members of Congress that such attempts to stymie agency efforts to protect the public are an unacceptable abuse of power. 

Editor's Note (06/10/2014): This post has been updated since its original publication date.

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