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Congressional Republicans Want to Hogtie Obama Agencies

Congressional Republicans Want to Hogtie Obama Agencies

A new bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on December 7 would effectively shut down Obama’s executive branch agencies when it comes to any new rules or regulations. The Regulations From the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act would require both houses of Congress to vote on any executive branch decision that might cost more than $100 million dollars in cumulative economic impact (meaning cost to anyone). Any rule or regulation not voted upon within 70 days of its finalization would not be implemented.

The bill’s proponents are unabashedly targeting clean air and clean water regulations coming out of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as their example of big government run amok. Recent campaign ads have compared EPA employees to aliens working to colonize the planet and Michelle Bachmann has promised that “EPA will have doors locked and lights turned off” if she becomes president.

Congress already has the power to block regulations coming out of EPA, the Food & Drug Administration, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration and all the other executive branch agencies, but not with a simple majority vote. In 1996, Congress passed the Congressional Review Act, enabling a “resolution of disapproval” from both houses of Congress to override proposed regulations.

However, under the Congressional Review Act a resolution stopping an executive branch rule would need to be signed by the president, who would likely veto any such bill. To override a presidential veto, opponents of a regulation would need a two thirds majority in both the House and Senate. Congress has only managed this once since 1996, in 2001 to block ergonomics regulations out of the Department of Labor.

The REINS Act would turn Congressional oversight process on its head, requiring a vote on nearly every regulatory major initiative out of the agencies in order for them to proceed. One of the ironies of the bill is that it is the job of the federal agencies to implement laws passed by Congress.

The regulations coming out of EPA are mandated by laws like the Clean Air Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act. Congress discovered over time that complicated, scientific rule making was really not its strength and delegated those tasks to agencies overseen by the president. David Goldston of the Natural Resources Defense Council explains: “The bill could, in effect, impose a slow-motion government shutdown, and it would replace a process based on expertise, rationality and openness with one characterized by political maneuvering, economic clout and secrecy.”

While it’s unlikely that the Senate will take up the measure and pretty certain that President Obama would veto it, this kind of legislative nonsense is turning up attached to all of the must-pass of budget bills.  “I continue to be disappointed that House Republicans are wasting Congress’s time on ideologically-driven bills to erode federal protections for consumers and communities instead of working on a plan to create jobs,” House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said in a statement.

“The REINS Act would undermine our ability to protect children from harmful toys, prevent asthma and lung ailments resulting from pollution, and ensure that our small businesses can compete fairly in the marketplace,” he added. “At the same time, it would force Congress to play a larger role in the regulatory process, leading to even more gridlock in Washington.”

Related Stories:

The Weirdest Anti-EPA Campaign Ad You Are Going to See

Bachmann Wants to Lock Up The EPA and Turn Out The Lights

Related Actions:
(supporting important pending government regulations that REINS Act supporters would block)

Stop More Coal Ash Spills

Obama: Support Clean Air Rules

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Whitehouse photo by flickr user foxypar4

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80 comments

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5:14PM PST on Dec 21, 2011

Wat een eeuwig gelul, it's all just a big scamming distraction of our "untimely" own demise.

11:38AM PST on Dec 14, 2011

The republicans want to completely destroy the EPA. It's ok to natural gas frack and poison our water, blow up mountain tops, dump toxic coal ash in our streams, use pesticides to grow our food and poison us, and dump nuclear waste in our envoroment, as long as your an ignorant republican who is bought and paid for by the dirty fossil fuel industries that are destroying this planet.

7:30AM PST on Dec 14, 2011

Sounds like the republicans took the ferengi rules of acquisition to heart...google it

7:08PM PST on Dec 13, 2011

Primarys are how the different political parties pick their candidates to represent their party. It is the only way to have a fair choice. In the state of Md. Democrats vote in the Democratic primary , and Republicans vote in the Republican primary , as do the people belonging to other parties that have candidates in the state.

1:18PM PST on Dec 13, 2011

They want to tie his hands completely, not just for these things that are mentioned, but for the fact that he may actually "WAKE UP" to what the people want and over ride a congress that is dysfunctional, bought for and completely broken! WE, THE PEOPLE are waiting!

7:06AM PST on Dec 13, 2011

Toby S.--I don't know where you live, but in my state, you cannot vote in a primary unless you are registered in that party--Democrat/Democrat, Republican/Republican, etc.

Charles S.--You are so right. I have often wondered what happened to that "hands across the aisle" that McCain promised when he lost the election. However, he really has no choice but to try to work with them. Of course, everytime they obstruct--and they keep doing it--something that helps the regular people, they put another nail into their own coffin.

5:32AM PST on Dec 13, 2011

GOP O wait tea party GOP same same. Block and kill anything that will not lead to high profits with hurting something in the process. How about all the jobs promised for the tax cuts we are waiting?

4:48AM PST on Dec 13, 2011

Ron, the Forbes list of candidates who receive their funding from billionaires tells another story. Romney is first (and I bet Gingrich is closing in on him) while President Obama is second. If one "followes the money" the person NOT beholden to them is Paul. One doesn't have to "be" a republican to vote in their primary.

I vote for the guy that is the best chance to make serious change in the monetary system, not the guy that gets the most money from the 1% billionaires.

4:37AM PST on Dec 13, 2011

Marg, I suggest going to Paul's own website. That's as close to the source as one can get.
Everyone else is bought and paid for by big money. That's why media doesn't pay much attention to him...they are paid by the big money opponents.

2:29AM PST on Dec 13, 2011

I cannot stand extremists, whether on the left or right. I just think we're all doomed (except for the wealthy)

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