Congressional Review Act
The Congressional Review Act (5 U.S.C. § 801-808), was enacted by the United States Congress as section 251 of the Contract with America Advancement Act of 1996 (Pub.L. 104–121), also known as the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (SBREFA). The law allows Congress to review, by means of an expedited legislative process, new federal regulations issued by the government agencies and, by passage of a joint resolution, to overrule a regulation.
The law requires that any agency promulgating a covered rule must submit a report to each House of Congress and to the Comptroller General that contains a copy of the rule, a concise general statement describing the rule (including whether it is a major rule), and the proposed effective date of the rule. A covered rule cannot take effect if the report is not submitted.
The law provides a procedure for expedited consideration in the Senate. If the committee to which a joint resolution is referred has not reported it out within 20 calendar days after referral, it may be discharged from further consideration by a written petition of 30 Members of the Senate, at which point the measure is placed on the calendar, and it is in order at any time for a Senator to move to proceed to the joint resolution. If the Senate agrees to the motion to proceed, debate on the floor is limited to 10 hours and no amendments to the resolution or motions to proceed to other business are in order, and so the Senate may pass the joint resolution with a simple majority.
Examples of joint resolutions
Joint resolutions of disapproval have included:
- S.J.Res. 6, 107th Congress (2001), providing for congressional disapproval of the rule submitted by the Department of Labor relating to ergonomics (became Pub.L. 107–5 on March 20, 2001);
- S.J.Res. 17, 108th Congress (2003), disapproving the rule submitted by the Federal Communications Commission with respect to broadcast media ownership (passed Senate 55-40 on September 16, 2003; not acted on by the House);
- S.J.Res. 4, 109th Congress (2005), providing for congressional disapproval of the rule submitted by the Department of Agriculture relating to risk zones for introduction of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (passed Senate 52-46 on March 3, 2005; not acted on by House);
- S.J.Res. 20, 109th Congress (2005), disapproving a rule promulgated by the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to delist coal and oil-direct utility units from the source category list under the Clean Air Act (failed in Senate 47-51 on September 13, 2005);
- S.J.Res. 30, 111th Congress (2010), disapproval of the rule submitted by the National Mediation Board relating to representation election procedures (motion to proceed not agreed to in the Senate 43-56 on September 23, 2010);
- S.J.Res. 39, 111th Congress (2010), providing for congressional disapproval of the rule relating to status as a grandfathered health plan under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (motion to proceed not agreed to in the Senate 40-59 on September 29, 2010).
- Richard S. Beth. The Congressional Review Act and Possible Consolidation into a Single Measure of Resolutions Disapproving Regulations. Washington, D.C.: Congressional Research Service, 2009.
- Daniel Cohen and Peter L. Strauss. "Congressional Review of Agency Regulations." Administrative Law Review. 49 (Winter 1997):95.
- Curtis W. Copeland. Congressional Review Act: Disapproval of Rules in a Subsequent Session of Congress. Washington, D.C.: Congressional Research Service, 2008.
- Curtis W. Copeland. Congressional Review Act: Rules Not Submitted to GAO and Congress. Washington, D.C.: Congressional Research Service, 2009.
- Morton Rosenberg. Congressional Review of Agency Rulemaking: An Update and Assessment of The Congressional Review Act after a Decade. Washington, D.C.: Congressional Research Service, 2008.
- "The Mysteries of the Congressional Review Act." Harvard Law Review. 122 (2009):2162.