PLF’s Red Tape Rollback project: We’re boosting the use of the Congressional Review Act to free our economy from job-killing regulations


“[Pacific Legal Foundation’s] Todd Gaziano on Wednesday stepped into a meeting of free-market attorneys, think tankers, and Republican congressional staff to unveil a big idea.  By the time he stepped out, he had reset Washington’s regulatory battle lines.”

Those were the first words of The Wall Street Journal’s Kimberly Strassel, in a recent column from the nation’s capital.  It was titled, “A Regulatory Game-Changer,” and it highlighted a dynamic strategy for freeing up America’s economic energies by potentially felling forests of job-killing federal regulations.  The column made waves; it was read on air by national radio host Hugh Hewitt, and was the subject of editorials and news stories nationwide.

The exciting possibilities are offered through a newly aggressive use of a two-decade-old law:  The Congressional Review Act.  The CRA allows Congress to review — and disapprove — newly issued regulations, so it can be used now to overturn the worst “midnight” regulations imposed by the Obama Administration.  But its full potential to kill even older rules — onerous regulations dating from as long as two decades ago — is just now being understood.

With your support, PLF is at the forefront of this drive to promote the CRA “to the max,” to rein in regulatory overreach, and restore constitutional accountability over regulatory agencies.

The nation’s most authoritative advocate of energetic use of the CRA is our own Todd Gaziano, executive director of PLF’s DC Center. “These days Mr. Gaziano is a senior fellow in constitutional law at Pacific Legal Foundation,” as Kimberly Strassel’s column noted.  “But in 1996, he was counsel to then-Republican Representative David McIntosh.  He was intimately involved in drafting and passing” the CRA, which Mr. McIntosh sponsored.  “No one knows the law better.”

Todd is utilizing that expertise to oversee PLF’s new Red Tape Rollback Project, found online at  It is a multipronged program to educate lawmakers and the public about effective use of the CRA — and to identify as many regulatory targets as possible.

The CRA has teeth against regulatory overreach; PLF’s goal is to make sure they’re used

As Todd helped draft and enact it, the CRA requires that any new rule from a federal regulatory agency be submitted to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and both houses of Congress, with a short report, before it can take effect.  Congress then has 60 legislative days to use fast-track procedures for an up-or-down vote on any rule that it wants to disapprove.  Enactment of a resolution of disapproval with the president’s signature kills the rule and prohibits an agency from adopting any “substantially similar” rule again without a new law authorizing it.

Moreover, Congress can use the CRA to disapprove any existing rules, going back to 1996, that was not previously reported to the House and Senate as required by the CRA.

The act defines a “rule” broadly to include both formal notice-and-comment regulations and informal agency statements regarding governing laws.

Congress has already used the CRA to reject three last-minute Obama regs — and hundreds of other destructive rules could potentially be cancelled

Thanks in significant part to Todd Gaziano’s tireless educational efforts, “everyone [in D.C.] right now is talking about the CRA,” writes Strassel in the Journal.  At press time for this At Issue, the new Congress and President Trump had already used the usual CRA approach to reject three regulations issued near the end of the Obama Administration.

These three are more regulations than were voted down in the prior 20 years of the law’s existence!  And Congress is considering resolutions to kill 10 more abusive rules.  But that’s nothing compared to the law’s overall possibilities:  As explained on PLF’s site, hundreds of economy-suffocating rules could potentially be repealed using the CRA.  The go-to site for CRA education — and engagement

PLF’s is the nation’s definitive online platform offering education about the CRA, along with opportunities for public engagement and activism.  It includes the full text of the law, its legislative history, comprehensive information on how it can be used more effectively, resources for media, and a developing list of federal regulations — both recent and long-standing — that are vulnerable to congressional rejection under the CRA.

In the last week, PLF is proud to welcome leading national public policy, legal, and research organizations as “founding partners” on the site and the larger project.  They currently include The Club for Growth, The Heritage Foundation, The Buckeye Institute, Competitive Enterprise Institute, and State Policy Network.

Visit the site soon!  One key goal is to identify hundreds of existing regulations, going back to 1996, that bureaucrats illegally implemented without submitting them to Congress as required by the CRA.  To that end, the website features an opportunity for visitors to “FIND UNREPORTED REGULATIONS,” with instructions on identifying regulations not listed in the GAO’s database of rules that were submitted to Congress.

To revitalize our economy, we must “rescue” it from excessive regulations

“PLF’s Red Tape Rollback Project could not come at a more important time,” said Gaziano.  “Its purpose is to raise awareness of how the CRA can be used by elected officials — and how the public can assist them — to roll back excessive federal regulations.  President Trump says he wants to get the economy moving, and he knows this will require a dramatic reduction in federal regulations.  Aggressive use of the CRA will be essential to achieving that goal, and will also help restore the democratic accountability the Framers knew was the best protection of liberty.”

To our donors:  THANK YOU for making it possible for PLF to battle against overreaching government — by litigating in courts and by promoting the effective use of legal tools such as the CRA.  Please keep donating generously, so PLF can keep “rescuing liberty” from coast to coast!