My decision to write about the Congressional Review Act (CRA) in the fall of 2020 launched the beginning of an academic journey marked by several unexpected twists and turns.
I originally chose to write about the CRA because, like many political theorists at the time, I was curious whether a Democrat-controlled Congress and presidency might utilize the CRA to rescind Trump-era agency rules (just as the Republican-led 115th Congress did for Obama-era regulations in 2017). But while I was intrigued by the possibility of using the CRA to strengthen environmental protections in the short term, I was terrified by the long-term implications of reinstating what is essentially a legislative veto.
Unsure how to feel about the CRA, I decided to research the origin of the law and to try to parse out what separated the successful uses of the Act from the failures. This Note expands upon that early research to contextualize the law within American history and evolving political ideologies. It also explores how the federal courts system has responded to agency-created law, focusing in particular on a recent Ninth Circuit case, Center for Biological Diversity v. Bernhardt. By examining the origins of the CRA and how the Act affects the structure of our three-pronged federal government, this Note concludes that the CRA is ultimately harmful and should substantially amended or, better yet, repealed. Now that the 2020 election and transition period is behind us, Congress must seriously consider the future of the CRA.