The Chamber report listed 16 substantive such sub-regulatory programs currently in place. The “We Can Help” program, for example, was launched by the Department of Labor, after meetings with labor officials, employee rights groups, and representatives of the plaintiff’s bar. The Chamber noted that the program has not yet created any new procedures or rules.
In the realms of health care and financial regulation, the twin bills passed within the last year establish sweeping rule-making powers for federal agency officials in Washington. The health care bill has handed significant new authorities to the Department of Health and Human Services, while the financial regulation bill established an entirely new federal bureaucracy, the Consumer Protection Agency, with broad powers to oversee private enterprise.
Most of the rules and regulations under these two bills have yet to be written or disclosed publicly.
The White House declined to comment on whether their energy and focus will turn next year to establishing a regulatory regime in lieu of passing legislation. But Democratic allies said the president would be well within his rights to do so.
“The president has vast executive and regulatory authority, and he should use it. It will be amusing when Republicans who supported Bush authorizing torture by executive order suddenly find it outrageous for Obama to, say, regulate pollution by EO,” said veteran Democratic strategist Paul Begala, who was an adviser to former President Bill Clinton.
But Karl Rove, who advised former President Bush throughout a presidency dominated by questions about executive powers, said that while “the president’s field of action in foreign affairs is broad, it is much more limited and at risk of congressional restraint in the domestic arena.”
This, Rove said in an e-mail, is where Republican control of the House would be a big deal.
“Rules can be overturned or blocked by congressional action. They can be tied up or sued in court. Agencies can be defunded or their budgets crimped. Executive branch officials outside the White House can be called before Congress to explain,” he said.
Weber laid out the coming clash in more detail.