The restoration of Article 1 powers, which treat all branches of government equally, has been a central goal of Republicans in Congress for the duration of President Barack Obama’s presidency.
For President-elect Donald Trump, whose agenda involves many sweeping changes to government, his executive power will be severely diminished if Congress gets their way.
One way Congress is attempting to roll back executive power is the Regulations From the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act.
The REINS Act aims to curb expensive regulations put forth by the executive. Major regulations with an economic impact in excess of $100 million would require an up-or-down vote in both chambers of Congress, complete with a signature from the president.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) told reporters in his Washington office Tuesday that President Trump will not have the same broad authority Obama has been privy to during his time in the White House:
“You’re gonna watch in the House, we will start out changing that structure. The Article 1 — from the REINS Act, the midnight laws and others that you bring through — that yes, that we’ll have common ground and common sense.”
McCarthy said that the purpose of the REINS Act is to propel the United States’ economic stagnation by limiting the flow of regulations that have been a pillar of the Obama presidency.
“The first six years of this administration they had 500 new regulations,” McCarthy said. “I mean the idea of how to put this country back to work, allow [the middle class] to grow and actually have more money. Today, they’re worth less than they were eight years ago, that’s the frustration.”
McCarthy said that early in the election cycle, Trump was a supporter of the REINS Act and similar policy plans because of his opposition to government regulations on business.
“Donald Trump understands that the country works better when it has three co-equal branches and that this last administration has extended the executive in so many different areas, we’ve watched time and time again where the courts had to stop it and overrule.”
Another piece of legislation aimed at restricting executive powers is the Midnight Rules Relief Act, which prevents the president from pushing through last minute regulations in the final 60 days of a presidential term by amending the Congressional Review Act.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), who sponsored the bill, said after it had passed the House earlier this month that “Presidents of both parties have made habit of enacting scores of last-minute regulations, with little oversight, to sneak in as much of their agenda as possible before the clock runs out on their time in office,” adding:
“The bill helps ensure this President and any future president will be held in check and that their policies have the proper level of scrutiny by both Congress and the American people.”
From a regulatory standpoint, Trump is slated to have considerably less power than his predecessors, assuming Republicans can push through their plans to level the three branches of government.
“So one of the roles of the House will be is bringing that back into order,” McCarthy said. “That’s the way the Constitution was written, that’s the way the country works best and I think it’ll be very productive.”