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Cotton Praises Repeal of Obama Administration’s ‘Midnight Regulations’

May 2, 2017

I want to take this opportunity to highlight what I consider an unsung achievement of this administration and this Congress: the slow-but-steady rollback of the last administration's midnight regulations.

The numbers are impressive. Using the Congressional Review Act, we've repealed 13 regulations so far, which adds up to a $3.6 billion reduction in regulatory costs. To put it in more human terms, we've saved the American people 4.2 million hours of paperwork-which I can tell you is more-than-welcome news in Arkansas.

The other thing about these resolutions we've passed is they're permanent. We haven't simply put these regulations on pause for a future president to revive them with his pen and phone. No, we've outlawed them forever. Any president who wants to re-impose them-and their huge costs-will have to pass a new law to do so. Making the rules we live under-and the people who make them-accountable to the voters. That's a bit of a foreign concept to the people in Washington these days. But the way I see it, that's all the more reason to celebrate what we've achieved.

Now, I know the other side will say this is a dark day for America. To hear them tell it, blotting out all these regulations will leave a dark stain on our law books. To them, this rollback is a throwback to a dangerous, rough-and-tumble era: one filled with dirty air, dirty water, and a frighteningly low quality of life. But it just ain't so.

Stop and take a look at the regulations we've repealed. And then ask yourself, why should Washington decide how we evaluate our teachers-shouldn't parents, states, and cities do that? Why shouldn't states be able to test for drugs before handing out unemployment insurance? Is that so unreasonable a request? Why are bureaucrats who are sitting in an office thousands of miles away managing our land and wildlife-shouldn't it be the people who live right there? Why should federal bureaucrats be able to override a law duly passed by Congress and signed by the President? Do any of these regulations add much to our quality of life?

Is this really about protecting the public interest? Or is it more about rewarding special interests? In fact, I can understand why liberals are bewildered at the idea that all these rules are hurting jobs . . . because these rules certainly are creating jobs-for lawyers and lobbyists. If they had been a bill, it would have been called The American Bar Association Full Employment Act.

And that, perhaps, is the real issue here. It's not a question of whether we're going to live under rules. We have rules-plenty of them. The question is what kind of rules are we going to live under? Are we going to pass laws that impose costs on rural America only to add more wealth to urban America? Are we going to kill blue-collar jobs so we can create more white-collar jobs? Or are we going to pass laws that help all Americans in all walks of life, as we should?

When you look at things this way, I'd say we've scored an impressive victory indeed over these last three months.