A regulatory saving grace?

A REGULATORY SAVING GRACE?…. Part of the problem with the regulatory changes Bush is pushing through as his presidency ends is that they’re regressive measures intended to undermine consumers, workers, and the environment. But the more frustrating aspect is that these regulatory changes are hard to fix.

With that in mind, this was welcome news.

Congressional Democrats are eyeing a little-known, Clinton-era law as a way to reverse Bush administration midnight regulations — even ones that have already taken effect.

It’s a move that would undermine the White House’s attempt to finalize its energy and environmental regulations by November so that Barack Obama couldn’t undo them after he’s sworn in as the 44th president on Jan. 20.

“Fortunately, [the White House] made a mistake,” said a top Senate Democratic aide.

And what was the mistake? According to the report in the Politico, Clinton finalized regulatory changes within 60 days of Bush’s inauguration, making them easy to reverse. White House chief of staff Joshua Bolten instructed federal agency heads to wrap up their work by Nov. 1.

Apparently, however, there’s something called the Congressional Review Act of 1996 that, according to Erika Lovley’s and Ryan Grim’s report, mandates that “any regulation finalized within 60 days of congressional adjournment — Oct. 3, in this case — is considered to have been legally finalized on Jan. 15, 2009. The new Congress then has 60 days to review it and reverse it with a joint resolution that can’t be filibustered in the Senate.”

As such, Congress could undo Bush’s changes from the last six months with a simple up-or-down vote.

This is far from my area of expertise, so I can’t speak to the merit of the idea, but key Democrats, including staffers for Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and House Global Warming Committee Chairman Ed Markey (D-Mass.), are taking this seriously.

Interesting stuff. Take a look.