There is a saying in Washington, D.C.: “If you can’t legislate it, regulate it.” President Biden, like others before him, now faces a divided Congress that puts a damper on his legislative agenda. As the Biden administration turns to regulations to implement their priorities, Republican lawmakers are increasing their use of the little-known Congressional Review Act (CRA) to roll back regulations they oppose. 

The CRA allows Congress, with a simple majority vote (including in the Senate), to send a resolution to the president for his signature overturning a recent regulation. Recently, we have seen some in the media characterize the passing of a resolution by Congress meaning that lawmakers have the power to unilaterally overrule a regulation – they do not. President Biden would need to sign the CRA resolution into law, effectively overriding his own administration’s actions. On March 1, the U.S. Senate passed such a resolution by a 50-46 vote blocking a recent rule allowing financial advisors such as those administering 401Ks to factor in Environmental Social Governance (ESG) into their investment decisions. President Biden indicated ahead of the Senate action and following House passage that he would veto the resolution – as he will do with several other CRAs expected in the coming weeks.

Another will seek to block the Waters of the U.S. Rule, others will also focus on environmental issues, but all have one thing in common: President Biden will veto them all. As you read headlines in March about votes to block Biden regulations, keep the process in perspective. The legislative branch needs the executive to turn a bill or a resolution into law.