The Congressional Review Act, a 21-year-old law that created a fast track for wiping out “midnight rules” finalized late in a presidential administration, had been used only once before this year. But Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress have already deployed it 11 times to strike down Obama-era regulations. In fact, those 11 CRA resolutions are the only substantive bills Trump has signed so far; it’s quite possible that the CRA will produce the entire legislative legacy of his first 100 days. And just about all the resolutions Trump has approved—as well as two others that await his signature—represent victories for traditional Republican lobbying interests like the NRA, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and fossil-fuel industries, muscled through Congress on strict party-line votes. None of them evoke the drain-the-swamp anti-establishment populism that Trump rode to the presidency, which may help explain why he’s been so uncharacteristically quiet about them.
The highest-profile CRA bill so far gave internet service providers permission to track and sell their customers’ data without permission; a YouGov poll found 74 percent of the public wanted Trump to veto it, while 11 percent thought he should sign it, but he signed it without fanfare last Monday night. The same evening, he quietly struck down one Obama rule requiring employers in hazardous industries to keep better records of on-the-job injuries, and another preventing the killing of bear cubs in their dens and other extreme hunting practices in federally protected wildlife refuges in Alaska. Trump’s very first CRA bill was an anti-anti-corruption measure, blocking an Obama effort to force oil companies to disclose payments to foreign governments; Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had personally lobbied against the rule as CEO of ExxonMobil, telling lawmakers that undisclosed payments were vital to Exxon’s business in Russia.