Weekly Column: Undoing the Obama Legacy of 'Government Knows Best'

It has been three months since President Trump took office with a Republican-led Congress in place ready to help him advance policies that grow our economy and allow hardworking Americans to keep more of their paycheck each month. Almost immediately, we have been delivering on that promise by undoing a number of Obama-era regulations, regulations that take much-needed capital away from families and small businesses. Under the Congressional Review Act, the Senate has passed 13 resolutions undoing Obama-era regulations. The savings that come from undoing these regulations, combined with the president’s executive actions and formal rule delays, will save Americans more than $65 billion total in regulatory compliance costs and roughly 52 million hours of paperwork annually, according to the American Action Forum.

For example, we have been able to reverse the Obama administration’s education mandate, which would have imposed federal education standards on how to assess schools at the state and local level. We also stopped an Obama regulation that would have imposed burdensome new restrictions on internet service providers that did nothing to increase privacy protections for consumers.

In all, the Senate has passed 13 bills undoing Obama-era regulations under the Congressional Review Act (CRA), an important oversight tool that allows Congress to undo federal regulations issued by unelected bureaucrats at federal agencies. We expect to use the Congressional Review Act to undo even more regulations in the near future, further delivering on our promise to provide regulatory relief to the American people, who are currently saddled with $1.9 trillion in regulatory compliance costs each year. 

The Trump administration has also been busy using the tools available to it to undo burdensome regulations. It put a halt to the overreaching Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule, requiring the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps to review the WOTUS rule to make certain it promotes economic growth and minimizes regulatory uncertainty. This is a victory for South Dakota farmers, ranchers and landowners who would otherwise be forced to spend countless hours filling out paperwork to get permits from the EPA and Army Corps just to conduct normal agricultural activities or spray for weeds along our county roads.

The administration was also able to stop the Obama administration’s costly Clean Power Plan, which would have required states to completely rework their electric grids and led to dramatically higher electricity bills for every single American in the country. It also reversed a harmful regulation known as the “fiduciary rule” that would have negatively impacted South Dakotans saving for retirement by limiting the availability of retirement investment advice.

I’m the first to admit that not all rules are bad – some rules are necessary for government to operate in an orderly fashion and to keep Americans safe. But too much regulation is costly and stifles innovation. Under the eight years of the Obama administration, Americans saw an unprecedented amount of new rules and regulations issued by unelected, unaccountable Washington bureaucrats. In 2016 alone, the last year he was in office, the federal register which prints all the new rules being promulgated surpassed 97,000 pages, by far an all-time record. This is unacceptable and unsustainable.

At the end of the day, overregulation hurts families the most because they are the ones forced to pay more for goods and services. As the 115th Congress moves forward, I will continue working with my colleagues on ways to provide regulatory relief for South Dakota families and businesses.