Turley: Late Bush move 'almost sign of contempt' for election results
Constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley describes George Bush's intention to finalize 90 last-minute federal regulations, many of them on particularly sensitive issues, as "akin to fouling a water-well ... almost a sign of contempt for the results of the election."
In an appearance Wednesday on Countdown with Keith Olbermann, Turley explained, "This is the ultimate dead-hand control. ... What a president can do is, by finalizing a regulation, he can force his successor to go through an entirely new regulatory process that can take years."
"What the means in real terms," Turley noted, "is that you can have an Obama administration that continues to carry out George Bush's directives. And for people who elected Obama for change, that's a particularly obnoxious reality to accept."
Turley explained that the regulations in question are not the same as executive orders, which "are easier to undo. A President Obama can come in with his own superseding executive orders." However, once a federal regulation has been in effect for 60 days it can no longer simply be reversed by presidential action. This means that as of January 20, President Obama will be unable to undo any regulations finalized by November 22.
"We're talking about environmental regulations, a lot of issues that the public clearly indicated they wanted a change on," Turley continued. He observed that "President Bush has a certain benefit in being the least popular president in modern history. ... That seems to, in a strange way, have freed up his subordinates, where they are trying to just run the table and move every regulation, executive order they can to try to create this control."
However, as Politico pointed out on Wednesday, the "little-known" Congressional Review Act (CRA) of 1996 was passed to address just such a situation and will allow Congress to undo these last-minute regulations "with a joint resolution that canít be filibustered in the Senate."
"It creates something of a fiction," Turley said of the CRA. "It says if you push it through in the final days of your administration, it won't be considered final until the new Congress comes in. ... Congress gave itself extra time to reverse it."
"The key here, however, is time," Turley continued. "We're not going to have a lot of time, and we're talking about a lot of regulations and a lot of executive orders. And that's why Obama reportedly has a team of dozens of people who are trying to unravel this very complex web of executive orders and regulations."
Olbermann asked whether late January will see Congress handling "a flurry of legislations in which a dozen of these are repealed at the same time -- or one giant Get Rid of Bush Bill?"
"They could do it in an omnibus manner like that," stated Turley, "and I suspect that they may have to."
"Congress ... is going to be dealing with literally hundreds of executive orders and regulations and also hundreds of signing statements by this president," Turley concluded. "And eventually, they going to have to tackle each one of those individually to give Obama the right to direct his own administration."
This video is from MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann, broadcast Nov. 12, 2008.
Download video via RawReplay.com