Oh great. Wonderful.
This is where we’re headed…
Last, week, under the cover of a media bliss-out except among Koch funded right-wing channels, the House of Representatives passed a bill which would effectively repeal future standard setting under every important environmental, public health, consumer protection, labor standards, occupational safety and civil rights law on the books.
The bill, called the REINS Act, requires that any future major regulation adopted by an Executive Agency — say a new toxic chemical standard required by the recently enacted Chemical Safety Act, or a new consumer protection rule about some innovative but untested kind of food additive — must be approved by a specific resolution in each House of Congress within 70 days to take effect.
Here is the bill. I’m going to quote from it…
The purpose of this Act is to increase accountability for and transparency in the Federal regulatory process. Section 1 of article I of the United States Constitution grants all legislative powers to Congress. Over time, Congress has excessively delegated its constitutional charge while failing to conduct appropriate oversight and retain accountability for the content of the laws it passes. By requiring a vote in Congress, the REINS Act will result in more carefully drafted and detailed legislation, an improved regulatory process, and a legislative branch that is truly accountable to the American people for the laws imposed upon them.
“… increase accountability for and transparency in the Federal regulatory process. Section 1 of article I of the United States Constitution grants all legislative powers to Congress.” That sounds all hunky dory, except that it isn’t. From the Huffington Post article:
To give a sense of the scale of this road-block, in 2015 there were 43 such major federal regulations passed to protect the public; among them were food safety regulations, the Clean Power Plan regulating pollution from electrical generating facilities, net neutrality rules protecting the internet from monopoly, restrictions on predatory lending and energy efficiency standards for appliances.
If the REINS Act had been in effect, it’s unlikely that the Tea Party-dominated Republican caucus in the House would have approved of any of these rules. Future standard setting under the entire body of legislation enacted over the past 40 years to protect the public, from the Clean Air Act to the Dodd Frank financial sector reforms, would be frozen. Over time, as new health, safety, consumer and labor protection issues arise, all of these laws will effectively have been repealed, with no public debate and no accountability. It will also be impossible to restore them as long as the REINS Act is in effect, because by requiring Congress to approve every regulation, it makes it impossible to pass technically complex and scientifically valid rules on any topic of controversy.
This ends up destroying, for example, the Chemical Safety Act, passed by the Republican Congress last year. This act gave the EPA the power to control 10 widely abused chemicals.
The Act passed only because in exchange, states gave up much of their power to protect their citizens from toxic chemicals; without that incentive, the Tea Party will certainly act to prevent EPA from restricting the use of these chemicals. But the states only agreed to give up in exchange for the promise that EPA would act. But the REINS act neuters this promise. Even if the House Republican caucus was willing in theory to consider such rules, there is simply no way Congress could add 10-40 new pieces of legislation to its work load in the chemical safety area alone. In fact, the House also just passed legislation to allow it to REPEAL all of President Obama’s regulatory acts in the last eight months of his term in office with ONE vote. Why? Because House members said there was not time for individual votes on each rule — exactly the requirement they just established for new rules.
We cannot count on the Senate to refuse to pass this. We have to act now. Send emails, make phone calls, lobby… do what you have to do, but this whole thing has to be stopped. We cannot allow it to pass the Senate.