Congress should block Biden’s harmful environmental regulations with power of the purse

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Congress shouldn’t sit back and watch as the Biden administration proposes and finalizes costly and harmful energy and environmental regulation. Instead, it needs to take preemptive action so that these rules never get finalized in the first place.

There are numerous proposed rules that should be in the crosshairs of legislators, including:

  • The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed greenhouse gas power plant rule, which is another attempt to shift electricity generation from affordable and reliable sources to costly and unreliable sources, while helping to put an end to coal-fired power plants.
  • The EPA’s proposed vehicle tailpipe rule that would restrict the ability of Americans to choose their own cars. Federal officials think they should make the decision to get Americans out of the gas-powered vehicles they demand and into the electric vehicles (EVs) they have continued to reject.
  • The Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) proposed changes to a critical guidance document (Circular A-4) that informs regulatory analysis across the government, including those agencies working on energy and environmental issues. The proposal would radically change regulatory analysis and be another means of gaming the system to expand the administrative state.

Legislators are rightfully turning to the Congressional Review Act (CRA) when seeking to block harmful regulation. After all, it does make it easier for Congress to consider and enact legislation to reject agency rules (which can include guidance) due to the CRA’s helpful procedural provisions (e.g. it can avoid a filibuster in the Senate).

But the CRA has limitations. President Biden will veto any bill that rejects his own administration’s regulations. Further, the CRA only applies to rules once they have been finalized.

Legislators need to act sooner to address costly and harmful energy and environmental regulation, thereby providing Congress more opportunities to address these rules. Plus, they need to have more feasible ways to get something enacted into law. 

This is where the appropriations process comes in, and specifically policy riders in spending legislation, which is “must-pass legislation.” Legislators should withhold funding for the development of specific proposed rules and other agency actions, such as guidance, which are of concern.

Legislators certainly shouldn’t be giving money for agencies to ignore the will of Congress, ban or severely limit the availability of goods (e.g. gas stoves), effectively prohibit how businesses operate (e.g. coal-fired power plants), or impose their own preferences on consumers.

Members of Congress need to use every tool in their arsenal to push back against the Biden administration’s extreme environmental regulatory agenda. This should start with making it a matter of routine to insert riders in spending bills to ensure that Congress isn’t funding the administration’s extreme environmental rules.