Friday, November 14, 2008

Coda to the Reign of Error

Every lame duck administration rushes out batches of regulations in their waning days, often of an ideological kind they would not promulgate otherwise due to the political costs. These not-so-lovely parting gifts can be hard to undo because of the vagaries of federal rule-making and ADD-like Congressional focus.

This time could be different, however, according to Rachel Maddow last night on CNBC because Congress actually passed a law that changed the rules for changing the rules. Bush may have missed the deadline by months for making these kind of last minute regulatory changes:

Back in May, White House Chief-of-Staff Josh Bolton told federal agencies, "Hurry up. Finalize your new regulations by November 1st." Now, why November 1st? Because they thought if any new regulation passed more than 60 days before the start of the new administration, would kind of be written in stone and difficult to reverse.

The hilarious incompetence here is that the White House either forgot or they just didn't know about something called the Congressional Review Act of 1996, which according to "," means their math is wrong.

The actual deadline for passing new regulations is long past. It was May 15th, not November 1st, meaning anything passed after May 15th can be reviewed by the new Congress and effectively quashed. Oops.

The story at she refers to is here, which explains the thinking, the error, and the math.

Apparently Bush misread the deadlines as they pertain to the Congressional session dates in the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996, Public Law PL 104-121, which, amusingly, was part of Newt Gingrich's Contract on America and passed by the then Republican congress to reign in then President Bill Clinton from doing exactly the same kind of thing Bush is now trying to do.

The mind-numbingly byzantine text of the law itself is part of 5 USC 801 et seq.
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