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Using the Congressional Review Act to Do Away with ACA Rules

Using the Congressional Review Act to Do Away with ACA Rules

Catrina Reyes, J.D., M.P.A., Policy Analyst and Compliance Manager

Republicans have proposed to roll back Affordable Care Act (ACA) regulations/rules using a rarely used 1996 law, the Congressional Review Act (CRA). The CRA is an oversight tool that Congress may use to overturn a rule issued by a federal agency. Congress often delegates power to federal agencies to enact rules implementing a statute. However, the CRA gives Congress the ability to ensure the agencies are implementing the statute according to its intent.

Under the CRA, before a rule can take effect, an agency must submit a report to each house of Congress and the Comptroller General. Upon receipt of the report in Congress, Members of Congress have specified time periods in which to submit and take action on a joint resolution of disapproval. There is a debate of whether the federal agencies submitted reports to Congress of the ACA rules. If not, Congress may still have time to take action on those rules.

A joint resolution of disapproval of a rule need only be passed through a straight-majority. It cannot be filibustered. If both houses pass the resolution of disapproval, it is sent to the President for signature or veto. If the President were to veto the resolution, Congress could vote to override the veto. If a joint resolution of disapproval is submitted within the CRA-specified deadline, passed by Congress, and signed by the President, the CRA states that the “rule shall not take effect (or continue).” Moreover, “no determination, finding, action, or omission under [the CRA] shall be subject to judicial review.”

Because new or revised regulations take time to be finalized due to the rulemaking process, which requires public notice and an opportunity for interested parties to comment, Republicans believe they can do away with regulations implementing the ACA more quickly using the CRA. Many of the provisions that the Republicans want to change, however, are in statute and therefore cannot be revised or repealed without new legislation.

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