(This story has been recently updated with additional information. See below)
The U.S. House of Representatives has recently passed the Midnight Rules Relief Act of 2017, a bill which could essentially overturn the FDA deeming regulations almost immediately if also approved by the Senate. The bill will allow Congress to consolidate and overturn regulatory actions submitted for congressional review within the last 60 legislative days of the Obama Presidency, or those dating as far back as May 2016. The FDA deeming regulations published on May 10 may just barely make the cut, according to The National Law Review.
This congressional action comes just hours after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration attempted to tighten its grip on the struggling vaping industry by announcing an additional rule that would further clarify the agency’s stance regarding e-cigs as tobacco products. The FDA’s “Final Rule” may have been the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back in the eyes of the Republican Congress.
The Midnight bill passed the House largely along party lines, resulting in the vaping industry seemingly achieving the impossible – a legal reprieve from the crippling FDA deeming regulations that threaten to wipe out the entire industry by 2018.
More about the Midnight Rules Relief Act of 2017
The GOP-controlled 115th Congress is not wasting any time in revoking many of President Obama’s legacy legislative decisions from the past eight years. Senate Republicans have already taken decisive actions to repeal the Affordable Healthcare Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, but the process is proving more complex and time-consuming than many had previously anticipated.
The H.R. 21 Midnight Rules Relief Act of 2017 will dramatically expedite the repeal process for some 200+ pieces of lesser-known, Obama-approved legislation listed in a report by the House Freedom Caucus. If passed by the Senate and signed into law by Donald Trump, the bill will amend the current Congressional Review Act (CRA) by granting Congress the authority to simultaneously group and overturn the combination of regulatory packages all at once. Without the amendment, the CRA requires Congress to hold separate votes on each bundle.
This could be good news for the vaping industry because the FDA deeming regulations are not high on the list of Obama-inspired legislation that the Republican want to overturn. Although the Republicans largely agree that the deeming regulations must be repealed, they have much bigger fish to fry at the moment.
Passing the Midnight Rules Relief Act of 2017 might save the U.S. vaping industry several months of finger-crossing hoping that the GOP doesn’t forget them. Furthermore, the bill also safeguards the vaping industry from any potentially damaging last-minute regulations that the FDA might try to sneak in under the wire during the last days of the Obama Presidency.
Mitch McConnell and the Midnight Rules Relief Act
However, to gain final approval, the Midnight Rules Relief Act needs a full 60 votes in the Senate rather than just a simple majority vote. And currently, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is remaining rather quiet regarding his opinions on this particular piece of legislation. And support from McConnell is almost a necessity.
Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, and California Congressman Duncan Hunter, affectionately nicknamed “The Vaping Congressman" by e-cig enthusiasts, have publicly requested that the FDA overturn the deeming regulations on their own, just to save time. But the FDA continues to ignore their requests. If passed by the Senate, the Midnight Rules Relief Act of 2017 resolves this conflict once and for all.