Beyond Republicans and the Disapproval of Regulations

A New Empirical Approach to the Congressional Review Act
January 31, 2023

View at the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies (PDF)


Under the Congressional Review Act (CRA), legislators deploy expedited procedures to repeal agency regulations. For decades, the conventional wisdom—drawn from a handful of cases in which rules were repealed—has been that the CRA is primarily used by Republicans to nullify regulations issued at the close of Democratic presidential administrations. In this article, we demonstrate that the conventional wisdom provides an incomplete account of the use of the CRA. The centerpiece of our approach is an original data set of all resolutions disapproving of agency regulations introduced over a twenty-six-year period. The analysis of this data set demonstrates that Democrats make regular use of the CRA and that resolutions are consistently pursued outside of presidential transitions. Given these patterns, we argue (contrary to existing accounts) that the CRA is not inherently deregulatory and routinely has utility as an instrument of position taking for legislators of both political parties.

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