Congressional Review Act

The Congressional Review Act (CRA) establishes procedures for Congress to overturn final rules issued by federal agencies. After an agency's rule is reported to Congress, members of Congress have 60 days to introduce a joint resolution disapproving of the rule. When signed into law, these resolutions of disapproval (RDs) overturn the rule in question and bar agencies from issuing a "substantially similar" rule. The CRA offers two unique mechanisms: the Senate "fast-track" procedures and the "lookback" period. For an in-depth discussion of these mechanics and more, see our Regulatory Insight A Lookback at the Law: How Congress Uses the CRA. 

Learn About

  1. What the Data Show About the Congressional Review Act, 1996-2022
  2. The Lookback Period
  3. The Congressional Review Act and the 118th Congress: Actions Taken 2023-2024
  4. Our Scholarship

What the Data Show About the Congressional Review Act, 1996-2022

Resolutions of Disapproval Introduced by Year

Line chart showing trends in the number of Congressional Review Act resolutions introduced by calendar year. The chart peaks in 2017, with 67 resolutions introduced in Congress at the beginning of the Trump administration.


This graph shows the number of resolutions of disapproval (RDs) introduced each year since the CRA's inception in 1996. 

Following presidential transitions in 2001, 2017, and 2021, the number of RDs increases from the previous year. This could be due to members of Congress taking advantage of the lookback period at the beginning of presidential administrations. 


Number of Resolutions by Stage in Legislative Process

This chart shows the number of RDs that have reached each stage of the legislative process. While over 250 RDs were introduced in Congress from 1996-2022, just 20 of them became law. 

Although few RDs make it to the president, RDs are utilized by members of Congress as a messaging tool, as well as a tool to affect agency regulatory actions. 

Bar chart showing how many CRA resolutions have made it to various stages in the legislative process.


Agencies Targeted by Resolutions of Disapproval

Bar chart showing the number of resolutions targeting rules from various federal agencies.

RDs have targeted over 40 final rules from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Rules from the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Interior (DOI), and Labor (DOL) have also been targeted many times by CRA actions. 

Dumbbell chart showing differences in the number of resolutions introduced by Republicans and Democrats targeting certain agencies.

Beyond the total number of rules targeted per agency, Republicans and Democrats do not target agencies equally. Each point on this chart represents the number of RDs introduced by one political party targeting a given agency's rules. Republicans have introduced more RDs targeting rules from EPA, HHS, DOI, and DOL, while Democrats have introduced more targeting the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). Both parties have introduced an equal number of RDs targeting Federal Communications Commission and Department of Agriculture rules. 

The Lookback Period

The CRA's lookback provision gives Congress an additional chance to review rules issued in the period starting 60 working days before the end of a session of Congress through the beginning of the subsequent session of Congress.
Rules issued during the lookback period are treated as if they were published in the Federal Register and reported to Congress on the 15th working day of the subsequent session of Congress. 

The Congressional Review Act and the 118th Congress: Actions Taken 2023-2024


Our Scholarship

Featured Piece: A Lookback at the Law: How Congress Uses the CRA

2/13/2024 - By Sarah Hay | The CRA establishes procedures for overturning final rules issued by federal agencies. How does the CRA work? And how has Congress used the CRA since its inception in 1996?