House Republicans prepare to kill five Obama-era regulations

WASHINGTON, Jan 30 (Reuters) - House Republicans were set on Monday to begin the process of killing five Obama-era rules on corruption, the environment, labor and guns under the first real test of a law intended to keep regulation in check.

Republicans put as much urgency on limiting what they consider overregulation that stifles economic growth as they do on overhauling the tax code and dismantling the Affordable Care Act, according to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

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Freshman members of the incoming U.S. 114th Congress Mia Love (R-UT) (L) and Barbara Comstock (R-VA) huddle together in freezing temperatures after participating in a class photo on the steps of the U.S. Capitol in Washington in a November 18, 2014 file photo. REUTERS/Gary Cameron/Files
U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) holds the gavel upon being re-elected speaker in the House chamber on the first day of the new session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S. January 3, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) carries her daughter Abigail during a mock swearing in with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden during the opening day of the 115th Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 3, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) takes the stage to speak during the final day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 21, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar
U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) talks to journalist after attending the Senate Democrat party leadership elections at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, U.S. November 16, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) participates in a mock swearing-in with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden during the opening day of the 115th Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 3, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
U.S. Republican presidential candidate and Rand Paul speaks at a campaign rally in the Olmsted Center at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, January 28, 2016. REUTERS/Brian C. Frank/File Photo
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaks to reporters during the opening day of the 115th Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 3, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) participates in a mock swearing-in with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden during the opening day of the 115th Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 3, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
U.S. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) speaks at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 19, 2016. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
U.S. House of Representatives Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi speaks to reporters after she was re-elected to her post on Wednesday, despite a challenge from Rust Belt congressman Tim Ryan who said the party needed new leadership, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., November 30, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham speaks during a news conference in Riga, Latvia December 28, 2016. Picture taken December 28, 2016. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins
Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) speaks at a news conference with a bipartisan group of senators on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., to unveil a compromise proposal on gun control measures, June 21, 2016. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
Former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks to reporters as Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (2nd R) and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (R) stand with him following their meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama on congressional Republicans' effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 4, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL)(R) holds a copy of the letter Senate Republicans sent to Iran as he and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) speak after a vote failed to advance debate on a nuclear agreement with Iran on Capitol Hill in Washington September 10, 2015. A Republican-backed measure to derail the Iran nuclear agreement was blocked in the U.S. Senate on Thursday, in a major foreign policy victory for Democratic President Barack Obama. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
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Under the Congressional Review Act, Congress can use simple majority votes to stop recent regulations in their tracks. Timing in the law means any rules enacted after May 31 are eligible for axing.

The law has been used effectively only once, ending a rule on ergonomics in 2001. Both sides consider this week a test of its powers.

While the Republican-led House of Representatives has passed bills limiting agencies since it convened on Jan. 3, this week marks the first time it has targeted specific rules this year.

Republican President Donald Trump on Monday ordered scrapping two existing rules whenever a new one is approved.

The House Rules Committee was expected on Monday evening to send to the full chamber a measure axing three regulations enacted under former President Barack Obama, a Democrat. They were the Stream Protection Rule, the Securities and Exchange Commission's "resource extraction rule," and the Social Security Administration's expanded background checks on disabled gun buyers.

On Tuesday it will send another measure overturning rules on methane and federal contractors. The full body is expected to pass both measures on Wednesday and then hand them off to the Senate.

The extraction rule, which took six years to complete, was approved this summer and requires companies such as Exxon Mobil Corp to state publicly how much they pay governments in taxes and other fees. Critics say the rule hurts U.S. energy companies, while human rights groups argue it reduces corruption.

The Interior Department took years to craft the stream rule, hoping to prevent coal-mining waste from contaminating water sources in areas near mountain-top removal mining sites. Critics say it is unnecessary and goes too far, wiping out jobs and usurping state rights.

Liberal groups are outraged by the rollbacks, but their traditional allies, Democratic lawmakers, have limited means to stop them in the Republican-dominated Congress.

House Democrats will host events with experts, and activists will try to rally the public against the measures, hoping to persuade Republicans to vote no.

Senate Democrats cannot filibuster the measures but congressional aides expect them to slow the process by taking the full five hours they are allowed to speak against each measure on the chamber's floor.

(Additional reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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