Josh Got(it right)theimer Shows Hope for New Generation Democrats

New Jersey Democrats should take pride in Freshman Congressman Josh Gottheimer’s first vote in support of the Midnight Rule Relief Act of 2017. He was one of only four House Democrats who voted for it.

While it must have been difficult to buck the old guard, old message Democratic leadership in Capital City, Gottheimer showed that he is a new generation Democrat who heard and understands the message from the Trump election.  He is listening to the public, not the consultants. 

Unraveling Obama’s Administrative Rules

The Midnight Rules Relief Act amends the Congressional Review Act to allow Congress to consider a joint resolution to disapprove multiple regulations that federal agencies have submitted for congressional review within the last 60 legislative days of a session of Congress during the final year of a President’s term. Accordingly, Congress may overturn a group of such regulations “en bloc” instead of the current procedure of considering only one regulation at a time.

The Midnight Rules Relief Act is one of several bills aimed to unravel the excess of administrative rules enacted under the Obama Administration. Because regulations adopted by administrative agencies have the effect of laws of Congress — even though Congress does not vote for them — Obama relied on them heavily to push his agenda and circumvent the need to obtain approval from the Republican House.

Under the so-called “Chevron” doctrine, courts must defer to a federal agency’s reasonable interpretation of an ambiguous statute that the agency is charged with administering. As explained by the Supreme Court in Chevron U.S.A. v. Natural Resources Defense Council:

If, however, the court determines Congress has not directly addressed the precise question at issue, the court does not simply impose its own construction on the statute . . . Rather, if the statute is silent or ambiguous with respect to the specific issue, the question for the court is whether the agency’s answer is based on a permissible construction of the statute.

Because administrative regulations can be such powerful legal tools, lawmakers are also considering a separate bill to eliminate Chevron deference. Under the “Separation of Powers Restoration Act (SOPRA) of 2016,” courts would have to start from scratch and consider “de novo all relevant questions of law, including the interpretation of constitutional and statutory provisions and rules’’ when analyzing federal regulations.

Rep. Gottheimer Got It Right

Rep. Gottheimer’s vote keeps a promise he made during his campaign that he will roll back unnecessary and outdated regulations. “For too long, unnecessary and out-of-date regulations have been able to pile up on the books, burdening businesses large and small, and passing hidden costs along to families,” Gottheimer said in a statement after the vote. “I also think it’s critical that Congress is always a check on regulation, regardless of who is in the White House. I will support efforts to cut unnecessary and out-of-date regulations and help New Jersey’s businesses and families grow and prosper.”

Gottheimer’s first vote shows New Jersey that he is a new generation Democrat who could lead the party back to a majority in Congress. The public has told Washington loud and clear that after eight years of the Obama Administration their lives are no better than when George W. Bush was the president. There is no “hope,” and Obama’s change has been for the worse. Almost all of Obama’s “change” has taken the form of administrative regulations.  Only Congress, not executive branch appointees which will now be President Trump’s appointees, must write laws.

Democrats cannot do what the Republican Congress did and vote as a party against everything the Republicans propose or they will be seen as defending Obama and the eight-year administration that turned the majority of Americans against Democrats.

If the Democratic Party leadership insists on staying with its stale, out of touch, political consultant-driven message for America, new party leadership like Rep. Gottheimer must emerge and take the leadership.  If not, then the Republican’s will control the Federal government for a generation.

Donald Scarinci is a managing partner at Lyndhurst, N.J. based law firm Scarinci Hollenbeck. He is also the editor of the Constitutional Law Reporter and Government and Law blogs.

Article continues below
More from Business & Tech
A log of your preexisting conditions?
Could Your Fitbit Data Be Used to Deny You Health Insurance?