President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed legislation to scrap an anti-corruption regulation enacted last year to increase transparency in the business dealings of energy companies.
Trump signed House Joint Resolution 41 to repeal the rule, which required U.S. energy companies to disclose any payments involving domestic or foreign governments to the Securities and Exchange Commission. The regulation from former President Barack Obama’s administration was part of the Dodd-Frank Act, a regulatory reform package passed in 2010 as a response to the financial crisis and Great Recession.
The rule was a transparency measure intended to deter corrupt business practices by American oil, natural gas, coal and mineral companies.
“This is a big signing, very important signing,” the president said. “We are bringing back jobs, big league. We are bringing them back at the plant level, we are bringing them back at the mine level. The energy jobs are coming back.”
Congress voted earlier this month to kill the rule and sent it on to Trump, saying the rule put American energy companies at a disadvantage by burdening them with additional costs that foreign competitors do not have to pay.
Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Mich., the bill’s author, has called the regulation “cumbersome.”
“The SEC’s rule requires disclosure for American companies but not foreign entities, fundamentally harming American workers and shareholders,” American Petroleum Institute Director of Tax Policy Stephen Comstock said earlier this month.
H.J. Res. 41 is in-sync with the president’s agenda to roll back a number of Obama-era regulations that he argues stifle American businesses and the domestic economy.
“It is a priority for the Trump administration to fix our broken regulatory system so that it enhances American productivity and well-being without imposing unnecessary costs and burdens,” White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Tuesday.
Many Democratic lawmakers rejected the repeal when it went through Congress and rebuffed it again Tuesday.
“Openness is a quality of a democracy. Secrecy is used by authoritarian regimes,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., posted on Twitter. “The Trump administration must make transparency a priority.”
Tuesday’s action marked just the second time any U.S. president has used the Congressional Review Act of 1996 to revoke a rule or regulation from a previous administration. The law gives incoming presidents and Congress the power to reject rules imposed by outgoing administrations inside their last 60 days.
George W. Bush is the only other president to use the law, in 2001 to nix a last-minute regulation from Bill Clinton’s government.
–UPI, Doug G. Ware