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Sen. Chuck Schumer. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Georgia runoff results adding a majority in the Senate to the one Democrats already had in the House gave the party a fresh tool to reverse Trump administration policies.

Why it matters: The Congressional Review Act (CRA) empowers a majority in Congress to undo recent rules issued by federal agencies — including immigration restrictions, environmental rollbacks and labor regulations.

  • The power can be used in tandem with executive orders from the White House. President-elect Biden told reporters Friday one of his first priorities will be to use his executive orders to "countermand" those issued by President Trump.

How it works: Any rule enacted in the last 60 working days of a Congress — in this case since Aug. 21 — can be reviewed by the next Congress, according to Daniel Pérez. He's studied the CRA as a senior policy analyst at George Washington University's Regulatory Studies Center.

  • At least 1,354 rules would technically qualify for this review, according to the Federal Register.
  • A targeted rule could be blocked with simple majority votes in both the House and Senate.
  • A practical restraint comes from the mechanics: Congress can't start its review until the 15th working day after it's seated, and it only has 60 days to complete its work.
  • In addition, each regulation must be debated and voted upon individually in each chamber. That's a potentially time-consuming process in the face of other pressing congressional business.

Flashback: Republicans made unprecedented use of the CRA at the start of the Trump administration. It had been successfully used only once before, but they blocked 16 Obama-era agency rules.

But, but, but: While it is one of the most efficient ways to undo agency regs, the CRA can be a blunt tool. Rules can't be modified — only rejected completely. And if rejected, a similar rule can't be issued.

  • Some of Trump's biggest policies, such as those related to immigration, are already being challenged in the courts. Experts say it may be easier to simply let those legal fights play out.
  • Rules also can be undone or amended through the full regulatory process, although that can take months.

Go deeper

Biden to propose pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

One his first day in office, President-elect Biden will propose legislation that would give an eight-year path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants.

Why it matters: The proposal — the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 — is a stark shift away from former President Trump's harsh policies and rhetoric on immigration and fulfills a campaign promise of Biden's.

Republicans pledge to set aside differences and work with Biden

President Biden speaks to Sen. Mitch McConnell after being sworn in at the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Photo: Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images

Several Republicans praised President Biden's calls for unity during his inaugural address on Wednesday and pledged to work together for the benefit of the American people.

Why it matters: The Democrats only have a slim majority in the Senate and Biden will likely need to work with the GOP to pass his legislative agenda.

29 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Stalemate over filibuster freezes Congress

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell's inability to quickly strike a deal on a power-sharing agreement in the new 50-50 Congress is slowing down everything from the confirmation of President Biden's nominees to Donald Trump's impeachment trial.

Why it matters: Whatever final stance Schumer takes on the stalemate, which largely comes down to Democrats wanting to use the legislative filibuster as leverage over Republicans, will be a signal of the level of hardball we should expect Democrats to play with Republicans in the new Senate.