For the past eight years, the people of Kentucky endured an economy that failed to live up to its potential. Kentuckians wanted growth, jobs, and improved wages, but the Obama Administration responded with a highly regressive regulatory rampage that hurt the economy and empowered Washington bureaucrats.
The American people elected a new president who has already taken a number of actions that are helping to turn back the regulatory tide in favor of jobs, economic growth, and the Middle Class. As one of his first acts, President Trump ordered the elimination of at least two existing regulations for every new one issued. He also called for a regulatory budget to put a cap on the costs of regulations.
In addition, the voters re-elected a Republican Congress that has been working to overturn regulations that the Obama Administration rushed through at the last minute. Through a useful tool known as the Congressional Review Act or CRA, we repealed numerous Obama-era regulations that hindered economic growth, added unnecessary paperwork requirements, and centralized power in Washington. Together, the Republican Congress and the Trump Administration are working to help undo the regulatory damage of the last eight years.
One national newspaper called our combined efforts “a historic reversal of government rules in record time.” Another proclaimed that we’ve undertaken, “the most ambitious regulatory rollback since Reagan.” I call it delivering on the promises we made to the American people.
Together, Congress and the Administration are working to help the economy live up to its full potential by promoting policies that roll back duplicative and costly bureaucracy. Our combined actions have resulted in more than $67 billion in regulatory cost-savings and a reduction of about 56 million paperwork hours. These impressive results represent major benefits for American families and the economy, and they will make a substantial impact right here in Kentucky.
Through overbearing regulations, President Obama’s Department of Education attempted to take power away from parents and schools and shift it toward Washington bureaucrats. One alarming regulation would have interfered with how states prepared their teachers for the classroom. Another one would have inserted the federal government into the way states and local school districts hold their schools accountable and develop their curriculum – in direct contradiction to a bipartisan law passed by Congress last year. In response, Congress approved two CRA resolutions to stop these Obama-era regulations. By overturning these rules, we shifted power back to parents and schools, where it belongs.
The Senate also considered a CRA resolution to overturn a harmful, anti-coal regulation that took authority away from the states and even contradicted federal law. Throughout my career, I have supported coal miners and their families. I introduced the Senate version of the CRA to repeal this regulation because I knew the pain the Obama-era rule would cause for Kentucky coal families and communities. The rule was a bureaucratic power grab attempting to make coal too expensive to mine or use. Even worse, it could have put as many as one-third of coal related jobs at risk. I was proud to champion its repeal and to stand next to President Trump as he signed this resolution, which I prioritized as the first CRA considered this Congress, into law. Furthermore, by withdrawing from the Paris climate deal, this Administration reiterated its commitment to protecting coal families from higher energy costs and potential job losses.
Using the Congressional Review Act, this Republican Congress has also overturned regulations that would have stripped away consumer protections when families save for retirement. We removed rules that raised costs on American businesses competing overseas that unfairly benefited their foreign competition. And we’ve protected the sanctity of life by ensuring that states are not forced to fund Planned Parenthood against their will.
While we can’t completely undo the negative impact of Obama-era regulations, the CRA has allowed us to stop harmful rules and prevent agencies from issuing similar rules in the future. There’s still much work to do, and I’m committed to working with my colleagues in Congress and the Administration to help Kentucky’s economy recover from the past eight years of regulatory overreach that left too many behind.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has served Kentuckians in Washington for more than three decades.