The "midnight rule" political tactic, in which the last-minute legislative push-throughs of outgoing US administrations can be reversed by successors, became familiar to online gamblers last year when the Bush Administration rammed through the flawed and controversial regulations supporting the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act.
This week a Democratic Party Representative from New York, Jerrold Nadler, took the precaution of reintroducing the Midnight Rule Act to a Congress newly returned to the Capitol after the holiday season.
The Act enables an incoming president and his administration to reconsider and if necessary overturn any regulatory changes made by the previous administration within three months of the change of power.
Nadler referred to last minute changes made by the Bush Administration which fall within the scope of the Act, saying: "As expected, the Bush Administration has, in its final moments, proposed a series of retrograde and dangerous regulatory changes.
"I am reintroducing the Midnight Rule Act to reverse President Bush's last minute attempts to weaken key legal protections within our federal agencies. We cannot sit idly by as this Administration quietly makes last-ditch efforts to erode civil liberties, empower polluting industries, threaten the environment and weaken a woman's right to choose."
Nadler did not specify online gambling or the UIGEA in his introduction, but it is clear that the much-criticised regulations rammed through in some haste at the end of last year by a White House staffer who had previously lobbeyed for the NFL (see previous InfoPowa report) falls within the Midnight Rule timeframe and could be up for consideration.
Last-minute-rush legislative moves by the Bush Administration that need to be examined, according to Nadler, include: laws relating to reduced access to abortion, contraceptives and sex health information and an expansion of the right to refuse to give abortions by health workers; wider powers given to the FBI to collect information on Americans; looser environmental regulations enabling federal officials to circumvent reviews of global warming and potential ecological impacts, and the loosening of restrictions on mining companies regarding the disposal of toxic waste.
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