Thomas O. McGarity

Thomas O. McGarity holds the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Endowed Chair in Administrative Law at the University of Texas School of Law and is a board member at the Center for Progressive Reform. He is the author of The Preemption War

Recent Articles

The Shutdown and the Safety Gap

During the 35-day partial government shutdown, many Americans got an overdue civics lesson in all the useful things government does.

President Trump’s recent shutdown of much of the federal government created a safety gap that provides a stark reminder of the extent to which we depend upon the federal government to protect us from very real risks to our persons, our pocketbooks, and our shared environment. One silver lining: The 35-day furlough for government workers gave the citizenry a renewed appreciation for the contributions of public servants to safe communities and a well-functioning economy. Trump capitulated on January 25 as a shortage of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) air traffic controllers caused lengthy flight delays along the East Coast that affected thousands of passengers. But that was only the most vivid and visible of vital safety functions that were suspended. Innumerable critical protections were not provided because the employees responsible for providing them were not deemed “essential.” The Food and Drug Administration ceased inspections of foods at high risk for...

The Congressional Review Act: A Damage Assessment

How Trump’s Republicans have used an obscure Gingrich-era law to eviscerate health, safety, labor, environmental, and financial protections

AP Photo/Evan Vucci
This article appears in the Winter 2018 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . President Donald Trump has boasted that he had signed far more bills during his first months in office than many of his predecessors. Like many of his boasts, this one was misleading. Apart from purely ceremonial bills, the vast majority of bills enacted during his first six months in office stemmed from the Congressional Review Act of 1996 (CRA). This relatively obscure statute passed by the Gingrich Congress, which President Clinton ill-advisedly signed, empowers Congress to overturn major federal regulations within 60 “session” days of promulgation by passing a joint resolution of disapproval signed by the president. If Congress permanently adjourns prior to the end of 60 days that it is in session, the next Congress gets another 75 session days to pass a joint resolution. The current Congress therefore had until late May of 2017 to overturn any major regulation promulgated...

Trumping State Regulators and Juries

The right backs states' rights when that's convenient—but uses federal preemption to overrule blue state policies.

AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli
This article appears in the Spring 2017 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . In the wake of the 2016 elections, many progressives have sought solace in the prospect of resisting Trump administration initiatives and advancing progressive goals in blue states. In his State of the State address last January, California Governor Jerry Brown proclaimed: “California is not turning back. Not now, not ever.” Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom suggested that California might use its stringent environmental protection laws to impede the Trump administration’s efforts to build a wall along its southern border. Washington Governor Jay Inslee proudly announced that “our state will remain undeterred and we will not be slowed one iota by the foolishness that we’re hearing out of the White House.” Conversations about how progressive states should resist regressive Trump administration policies and sidestep Republican control of Congress often...