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First of Many “CRA” Love Letters to Corporate America Signed into Law by Trump

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The first of many deregulatory measures rapidly pushed by Congressional Republicans under the Trump administration was signed into law on Tuesday.

President Trump gave the green light to a resolution disapproving of Dodd-Frank disclosure rules. The regulations had required publicly-traded companies extracting natural resources to divulge payments made to foreign governments.

The proposal was one of dozens that have originated in the House of Representatives since January under the Congressional Review Act (CRA)–an arcane law, passed in 1996, allowing the legislative branch to nullify recently passed executive branch rules.

“This is the first of many Congressional Review Act bills to be signed into law by President Trump,” Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Tuesday.

The law has only been used once, just after President George W. Bush took office, in 2001. Congress and the White House reversed a rule passed by Bill Clinton’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Excluding the one signed into law by Trump on Tuesday, seven resolutions of disapproval under the CRA have already passed the House. One of those—a reversal of rules protecting streams from coal industry pollution—currently awaits President Trump’s signature.

Unlike normal legislation, resolutions passed under the CRA are not subject to the threat of a filibuster, meaning they can be passed by the Senate with a simple majority.

Regulations needed to have been passed by the Obama administration later than June 13, 2016 to merit consideration for Congressional disapproval under the CRA.

The timing and procrastination by the Obama administration is why the mineral extraction rule was vulnerable to attack.

Dodd-Frank financial reform of 2010 had ordered the SEC to craft the regulation, which it eventually did. But the commission’s chair during President Obama’s second term, Mary Jo White, was a critic of the measure. She once testified before Congress questioning, in the words of Reuters: “whether federal securities law was the proper vehicle to pursue social changes or end human rights abuses.”

In 2015, parts of the draft rule written by the SEC had been declared unlawful by a federal appellate court that had cited White’s own criticism of the regulation. The commission didn’t finish the rule until after the CRA deadline had passed.

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Since 2010, Sam Knight's work has appeared in Truthout, Washington Monthly, Salon, Mondoweiss, Alternet, In These Times, The Reykjavik Grapevine and The Nation. In 2012, he worked as a producer for The Alyona Show on RT. He has written extensively about political movements that emerged in Iceland after the 2008 financial collapse, and is currently working on a book about the subject.

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