Policy Update May 16, 2017

Position on S. 34, Midnight Rules Relief Act

NPCA submitted the following position to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security ahead of a business meeting on May 17, 2017.

NPCA urges members of the committee to vote against S. 34, the Midnight Rules Relief Act of 2017 when it comes before the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. This bill would permit the consideration of Congressional Review Act resolutions en bloc, allowing the dismissal of multiple rules that may safeguard our national parks and their air, water, and wildlife in a single vote.

NPCA generally opposes the use of the Congressional Review Act (CRA), which allows the repeal of public protections under a simple majority vote in the Senate and prevents the managing agency or department from ever drafting a substantially similar rule in the future. The bill under consideration by the committee, S. 34, only worsens the baseline CRA process by allowing single CRAs to be bundled with other repeal resolutions—making it easier and faster to eliminate rules that were drafted with extensive public input and expert review.

Further, S.34 applies beyond the current legal scope of the CRA; it would reach back a year, not just 60 legislative days, making countless additional protections for land, wildlife and waterways subject to unnecessary repeal. Many of these rules were developed over years of agency review and public engagement. To suggest, as in the S.34’s title, that these safeguards were done at the last minute is simply inaccurate.

National parks host some of our nation’s cleanest air and clearest water, represent our nation’s history and tell the story of our democracy. The Midnight Rules Relief Act of 2017 is counter to these very values, casting aside public review of safeguards that could instead be hastily packaged together and permanently repealed. To protect our park values and numerous safeguards to the health of our communities, NPCA urges a vote against S. 34.