The Congressional Review Act: Frequently Asked Questions

Executive Summary

The CRA requires executive branch agencies to report their rulemaking activities to Congress and creates a process for Congress to overturn these federal rules. Until 2017, the CRA had been used only once to strike down a federal regulation. Following the 2016 elections, however, a Republican controlled Congress, under the Trump Administration, used the CRA to invalidate dozens of federal rules enacted under the Obama Administration. Depending on the outcome of the 2020 elections, the CRA might serve as an important tool for a new Congress and Administration to rescind actions of the Trump Administration.

This issue brief will answer the following questions:
• How can Congress use the CRA to disapprove administrative rules?
• What types of actions are reviewable under the CRA?
• What is a major rule?
• What process does Congress use to review a rule that has not been reported to Congress?
• Can an agency issue a similar rule if Congress disapproves a rule under the CRA?
• What is the CRA “lookback period” and how is that calculated?

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