President Trump signed legislation that cancels a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) anti-corruption legislation that would requires oil and gas and mining companies to disclose in detail the payments they made to foreign governments. It was part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act.
The legislation signed by President Trump marks the first time in 16 years that the Congressional Review Act (CRA) has been used to repeal a regulation, and only the second time in the two decades that act has been law. It is the third piece of legislation Trump has signed in his first three weeks in office, The Hill reported.
Trump, and the Republican-controlled congress has promised an aggressive roll back of regulations that were put in place during the Obama administration on the fossil fuels industries and other businesses.
The legislation that was overturned was meant to fight corruption in resource-rich countries by mandating that companies on United States stock exchanges disclose the royalties and other payments that oil, natural gas, coal and mineral companies make to governments.
At a signing ceremony in the Oval Office, Trump said the legislation is part of a larger regulatory rollback that he and congressional Republicans are undertaking with the goal of economic and job recovery.
“This is a big signing, very important signing,” Trump said, flanked at his desk by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) and other lawmakers.
The administration and congressional allies say the SEC rule imposes massive, unnecessary costs on United States oil, natural gas and mining companies, putting them at a significant competitive disadvantage to foreign companies that do not have to comply.
The House passed the repeal measure earlier this month, followed shortly by the Senate.
Democrats and supporters of the SEC rule see the rollback as a victory for corruption.
“The rule they’re trying to repeal protects U.S. citizens and investors from having millions of their dollars vanished into the pockets of corrupt foreign oligarchs,” Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), top Democrat on the Senate Banking Committee, said earlier this month. “This kind of transparency is essential to combating waste, fraud, corruption and mismanagement.”
Supports argued in part that if the United States takes a leading role on foreign payment transparency, other major nations would follow.
Exxon Mobil Corp., whose former CEO Rex Tillerson is now secretary of State, was one of the most vocal opponents of the rule, along with other major oil companies.
The SEC is still obligated under the Dodd-Frank law to write some form of a transparency rule for extractive industries.
But under the CRA, the agency can never publish any rule that is “substantially the same” as the one that has now been overturned.
Both chambers of Congress have also passed a CRA resolution to overturn the Interior Department’s stream protection rule for coal mining, and Trump supports the repeal.