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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 signs racial equity executive orders

Joe Biden prays at Grace Lutheran Church in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on September 3, 2020, in the aftermath of the police shooting of Jacob Blake. PHOTO: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President Joe Biden on Tuesday signed executive orders on housing and ending the Justice Department's use of private prisons as part of what the White House is calling his “racial equity agenda.”

The big picture: Biden needs the support of Congress to push through police reform or new voting rights legislation. The executive orders serve as his down payment to immediately address systemic racism while he focuses on the pandemic.

Mayors feel powerless to reduce homelessness

Expand chart
Recreated from 2021 Menino Survey of Mayors; Chart: Jacque Schrag/Axios

America's mayors know their constituents hold them accountable for homelessness, but many don't feel they have the tools or power to fix things, a brand new survey says.

Why it matters: While homelessness has become more acute during the pandemic, city leaders say they lack the money, staff or political support needed to make a meaningful difference.

Ina Fried, author of Login
3 hours ago - Technology

Microsoft to buy Activision Blizzard

Microsoft

Microsoft announced Tuesday it plans to acquire video game giant Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion in cash.

Why it matters: The move comes as Activision Blizzard has faced a wave of accusations of workplace harassment.