H.R. 5982, Midnight Rules Relief Act of 2016

H.R. 5982

Midnight Rules Relief Act of 2016


November 17, 2016 (114th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact

Floor Situation

On Thursday, November 17, 2016, the House will begin consideration of H.R. 5982, the Midnight Rules Relief Act of 2016, under a structured rule. The bill was introduced on September 9, 2016, by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, in addition to the Committee on Rules. The Committee on the Judiciary ordered the bill reported on September 14, 2065, by a vote of 15 to 5.

Bill Summary

H.R. 5982 amends the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to allow joint resolutions disapproving en bloc regulations submitted to Congress for review within 60 legislative days of the end of a presidential term. Under current law, Congress can only use the CRA to disapprove one regulation at a time.


Midnight rules are new regulations issues as presidential Administrations draw to a close. Administrations of both parties have for decades witnessed a spike in regulatory output during the midnight period. Congress may not be have the ability to check regulatory overreach during the last few months or weeks of an Administration, partly due to its inability to consider more than one disapproval of a regulation at a time.

According to the Committee, regulations issued during this period are usually rushed and not properly vetted by agencies, impose high costs on taxpayers, and thwart the will of voters who just elected a new Congress or President.[1]

According to the bill’s sponsor: “Presidents from both parties have made habit of using midnight regulations to sneak in the few remaining parts of their agenda just before the clock runs out. Our bill will keep outgoing Administrations in check by ensuring new regulations attain the proper level of scrutiny by Congress and the American people. Many of these new rules and regulations come at a tremendous cost to small business and our job creators. We need to ensure these rules aren’t rushed in to fulfill some partisan agenda and that the people’s elected representatives have the opportunity carefully review them.”[2]

[1] See House Report 114-782 at 2-3.
[2] See Rep. Issa’s Press Release, September 9. 2016


The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that it has no basis for estimating how many regulations this legislation might affect.


  1. Rep. John Conyers (D-MI)—This amendment exempts from the bill rules that are necessary to prevent an imminent threat to health or safety or other emergency.
  2. Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA)—This amendment exempts from the bill rules that are proposed more than three years prior to submission to Congress.
  3. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX)—This amendment exempts any rule promulgated to prevent, respond to, or mitigate matters of national security.
  4. Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-VA)—This amendment exempts from the bill rules that the Director of the Office of Management and Budget determines would have benefits that exceed their costs.
  5. Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-VA)—This amendment exempts from the bill rules that are necessary to address the harmful effects of climate change.

Additional Information

For questions or further information please contact Jake Vreeburg with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 6-1828.