New bill could help overturn UIGEA

capital hill

The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act may have slipped into completion somewhat under the radar, just as it was passed through Congress, but there is hope that it could be upturned fairly easily with the incoming new U.S. president.

Last week Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) reintroduced the Midnight Rule Act, which would mandate that all regulatory changes made by the White House within the last three months of an administration be approved by incoming Cabinet secretaries.

"As expected, the Bush Administration has, in its final moments, proposed a series of retrograde and dangerous regulatory changes," Nadler said.

"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 first introduced the bill in November 2008, but is reintroducing it now that Congress is back in session after the holiday break.

If approved, the Midnight Rule Act would give the incoming administration a chance to check President George W. Bush's administration's final drive to push certain legislation into completion.

According to Nadler, the MRA would allow legitimate regulatory reform to proceed on schedule, while putting the power to review and overturn controversial new rules into the hands of the newly elected government. The bill also includes measures to ensure that the administration can still take actions that are necessary to protect the safety and security of the American public.

Many last-minute changes and laws have been put in place as the Bush administration nears its end.

The UIGEA regulations were one of those last-minute pushes made by the administration at the end of 2008. The Treasury Department and Federal Reserve finalized the rules for the UIGEA in November.

The UIGEA restricts deposits and withdrawals from banks to online gambling sites, including online poker rooms and online casinos. The bill has faced a lot of criticism for putting banks in charge of policing online gambling transactions and for trampling the civil liberties of people who choose to gamble online.

This is just one of many last-minute acts that could come under review by the incoming administration. According to Nadler, among the last-minute changes proposed by the Bush administration are:

  • Curtailing access to abortion, contraceptives and information about reproductive health options, while extending the "right to refuse" abortion provision to a larger number of health workers
  • New FBI guidelines allowing agents greater powers to collect information on individual Americans, with greater possibility for ethnic or religious profiling and monitoring of innocent bystanders
  • Weakened Interior Department regulations on federal projects which might threaten endangered species, allowing the agency to bypass reviews of global warming and potential ecological impacts
  • Allowing mining companies to dump toxic waste without concern for environmental harm

Congress will need to pass this bill quickly in order to give President Elect Barrack Obama's administration the power to review any of these issues when it comes into power next week.

Even so, there's no guarantee that the UIGEA would be one of the items scrutinized, despite the controversy surrounding it.

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