The House on its final Friday before recess approved a long-sought Republican bill aimed at reining in regulatory agencies by requiring congressional review of rules deemed to cost the economy more than $100 million.
The largely party-line vote was 232-183, and the bill’s prospects in the Senate are considered slim. The Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act (H.R. 367) was introduced by Rep. Todd Young, R-Ind., to restore “a measure of accountability to the democratic process.
“Why is it such a bad idea to ensure that individual Americans get to weigh in -- through their elected representatives -- on the important details that impact their pocket books, consume their time, and govern countless aspects of their lives?” Young asked in a statement lauding the bill’s passage. “More Americans could stay engaged in the entire lawmaking process and could voice their concerns in a meaningful way. And politicians would be unable to hide behind so-called ‘unelected bureaucrats’ because the American people could ultimately hold Congress accountable for the rules coming out of Washington.”
Small Business Committee Chairman Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo., also welcomed passage. “In the past four years, major rules alone have added nearly $70 billion in new regulatory costs,” he said. “By comparison, 10 years ago, there were six major rules in fiscal year 2003, for annual costs that were about $2 billion. In fiscal 2012, 14 new major rules imposed an additional $14.8 billion to $19.5 billion in annual costs, according to the Office of Management and Budget, making 2012 the costliest year on record for federal regulation.”
Democrats on the House floor argued that the bill was merely “messaging legislation” designed to appeal to the GOP base even though the Senate is unlikely to take it up.
Pro-regulation progressives called the bill a “bad summer rerun.” It is part of a “strategy by big industries to make other anti-regulatory bills appear moderate,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen and chair of the Coalition for Sensible Safeguards, in a statement. “If you like financial crashes, catastrophic climate change, dangerous workplaces, unsafe food and health insurance company control over healthcare decisions, you’ll love the REINS Act. The rest of us can take solace in the fact that this bill is dead on arrival in the Senate.”
Added Gynnie Robnett, outreach coordinator at the Center for Effective Government, “The House majority just voted yet again to gut protections for things Americans hold dear: clean air, clean water, safe food and safe workplaces.”