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Trump and Obama in the Oval Office. Photo: Win McNamee / Getty

The Trump administration’s most audacious legislative idea ever will never see the light — but it shows how this White House has been looking for ways to salt the earth for its Democratic successors.

The theory: Last year, the head of the White House Domestic Policy Council, Andrew Bremberg, told senior administration officials and Hill staff about an idea he had to tie the hands of future Democratic presidents. The idea would be for Trump to introduce a series of hardcore left-wing regulations — e.g. on climate change, the environment, labor and health care. Then, the Republican-controlled Congress would disapprove of these regulations using a law called the Congressional Review Act. That would bar future administrations introducing “substantially similar” regulations.

Why it won't happen: Trump administration officials are no longer seriously entertaining this idea, largely because Bremberg and others have recognized that it's politically infeasible. Republicans only have a one-vote margin in the Senate, and there's no way Mitch McConnell would waste precious floor time on such a moonshot.

But there are two reasons Bremberg and some senior players in the conservative legal community took this idea seriously:

  • It could be good politics. If the plan was executed quickly and perfectly — within the space of a week, for example — congressional Republicans could take a victory lap, saying they've prevented future presidents from regulating the heck out of the economy like Obama.
  • It could be a policy win for Hill Republicans, who would say they're giving some predictability to the business community about future executive actions.

In their first year of controlling Washington, Republicans have used the CRA more than a dozen times to undo regulations.

Why this matters: Though a top Republican source calls it “an evil genius idea that unfortunately will never happen,” it shows that this White House is equal parts creative and devious, with top aides already looking to hamstring their Democratic successors.

Go deeper

49 mins ago - Health

Study: Common antidepressant guards against COVID hospitalization

A COVID-19 intensive Care Unit in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil on May 27, 2021. Photo: Fabio Teixeira/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The readily available antidepressant fluvoxamine significantly reduced COVID-related hospitalizations, according to a large study published Wednesday.

Why it matters: The clinical trial suggests that a cheap, readily available drug could dramatically reduce serious illness and death when prescribed early.

By the numbers: Catholics, Biden and abortion

Expand chart
Reproduced from Pew Research Center; Chart: Axios Visuals

President Biden — the second Catholic U.S. president — will meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Friday, as some church leaders debate whether to deny Holy Communion to politicians who support abortion rights.

By the numbers: Overall, two in three U.S. Catholics believe Biden should be allowed to take Communion despite his stance on abortion, according to polling by Pew Research Center.

Texas House probes school library books dealing with race and sexuality

Photo: Brittany Murray/MediaNews Group/Long Beach Press-Telegram via Getty Images

Texas state Rep. Matt Krause, chair of the Texas House Committee on General Investigating, announced Wednesday that he's initiating a probe into schools' library books, according to a letter sent to the state's education agency and other superintendents.

Why it matters: The probe focuses on books that discuss race, sexuality or "make students feel discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress because of their race or sex," Krause wrote in the letter.

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