House passes third regulatory reform bill under veto threat

The House on Wednesday passed the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act, which would require a joint resolution of Congress to allow significant executive branch regulation to take effect. The 241-184 vote a day after President Obama threatened a veto.

It is the third major regulatory overhaul measure the House has passed this month. Chief sponsor Rep. Geoff Davis, R-Ky., has said the REINS Act is aimed at "restoring accountability and transparency to the regulatory process."

After it cleared the House Judiciary Committee in October, Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, said: "The REINS Act reins in the costly overreach of federal agencies that stifles job creation and hinders economic growth. It restores the authority to impose regulations to those who are accountable to the voters -- their elected representatives in Congress."

The White House in its statement of administration policy said the bill's requirement that both chambers of Congress approve major new rules is unprecedented. "This radical departure from the long-standing separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches would delay and, in many cases, thwart implementation of statutory mandates and execution of duly enacted laws, increase business uncertainty, undermine much needed protections of the American public, and create unnecessary confusion."

It also said the 1996 Congressional Review Act already permits Congress to review regulations and noted that the administration has a governmentwide review of regulations well under way. "When a federal agency promulgates a major rule, it must already adhere to the particular requirements of the statute that it is implementing and to the constraints imposed by other federal statutes and the Constitution," the White House said. "Indeed, in many cases, the Congress has mandated that the agency issue the particular rule."

David Schoenbrod, a law professor currently a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, defended the bill on political grounds. "In a representative democracy, the right way to find out which regulations the voters desire is for their elected representatives to vote on them," he said. "The upshot would be that agencies would talk to centrist legislators before promulgating regulations. That is how we should get to sensible outcomes in a democracy, not by elected lawmakers hiding behind unelected agency officials."

The opposite view was expressed by Scott Slesinger, legislative director of the Natural Resources Defense Council. "All year long, the House has put the interests of big polluters ahead of the public's," he said. "The REINS Act would replace science and health with politics and pollution. Every nanosecond spent on this misguided effort was precious time that should have been devoted to solving America's very real challenges."

The REINS Act faces an uphill battle in the Senate, which last month rejected it as a floor amendment.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.