How the Obama Administration Has Actually Broken the Law Hundreds of Times

Nearly half of the Obama administration’s 4,000 regulations since 2012 were illegally imposed by skipping the required congressional review, the Washington Post reported — and there’s not much Congress or the courts can do about it.

President Barack Obama speaks about the economy, Wednesday, July 30, 2014, at the Uptown Theater in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Under the 1996 Congressional Review Act, most federal administrative rules are supposed to be reported to the House and Senate and to the Government Accountability Office. The idea was to give Congress the opportunity to take action before the rule goes into effect. That same law also barred such rules from judicial review.

Curtis Copeland, a retired Congressional Research Service staffer, examined how many rules issued since 2012 were not reported to Congress and the GAO. He found that out of about 4,000 rules, more than 1,800 were not properly reported.

Copeland said he thinks it’s a matter of bureaucratic confusion that can be remedied.

“It’s pretty apparent that the system is broken,” Copeland told the Post. “It would seem this is one area where congressional Republicans and Democrats could get together and say: ‘This is crazy. We can fix this.’”

The White House deferred responsibility to the agencies who drew up the rules.

“The Congressional Rules Act states that the responsibility to report to Congress and GAO lies with the rulemaking agency,” Office of Management and Budget spokeswoman Emily Cain told the Post.

Former Sen. Don Nickles (R-Okla.), one of the law’s original sponsors, told the newspaper the intent is not micromanagement by Congress.

The bulk of the rules were deemed minor, but 43 were considered significant by the OMB; six of those were counted as major rules. Three of the rules published in early 2013 dealt with the Defense Department’s sexual assault prevention, which is estimated to cost $15 billion.

One-third of the rules imposed without congressional review came from the Defense Department, the Coast Guard and the Federal Aviation Administration.

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