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Congress enacted the Congressional Review Act (“CRA”) in 1996 as part of the Gingrich Revolution. The CRA creates an expedited path for Congress to repeal agency rules. It also prohibits an agency from reissuing a new rule that is “substantially the same” as a repealed rule. But the CRA fails to define “substantially the same” and does not require Congress to identify its objections to a repealed rule. The uncertainty that results has a chilling effect on federal agencies. Indeed, Congress has struck down twenty rules using the CRA, and just two of those rules have been replaced. We use the Bureau of Land Management’s Planning Rule, which was struck down in 2017 using the CRA, as an example of how an agency that is statutorily obligated to enact a broad regulatory program can proceed following a joint resolution of disapproval. The safest path forward, we argue, involves a rule that is more protective of the environment than the rule that was repealed by Congress—far from the outcome that congressional Republicans and the Trump Administration intended when they struck down the BLM Planning Rule.

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