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:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download

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