By Steve Horn • Thursday, January 5, 2017 – 12:00
One of the first orders of business for the freshly convened 115th Congress — now that it’s no longer attempting to gut an independent ethics office — is to pass a bill which could weaken the ability of federal regulatory agencies to do their jobs.
That law, the REINS (Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny) Act of 2017, has long been a legislative priority for Koch Industries, Koch-funded advocacy groups such as Americans for Prosperity, and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Its latest iteration, H.R. 26*, has the backing of Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) and 159 co-sponsors (five Democrats and 154 Republicans) and has reached full debate on the House floor.***
REINS dictates that a “major rule shall not take effect unless the Congress enacts a joint resolution of approval” and won’t become law if Congress does not pass that resolution by “70 session days or legislative days, as applicable.”
President Barack Obama’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) came out against the 2015 version of the REINS Act.
The OMB pointed toward the myriad existing safeguards that already ensure regulatory agency accountability, including the federal court system, the fact that many regulatory proposals actually stem from laws passed by Congress, and the requirement for robust public commenting periods.
“This radical departure from the longstanding 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, create business uncertainty, undermine much-needed protections of the American public, and cause unnecessary confusion,” OMB wrote in July 2015.
“By replacing this well-established framework with a blanket requirement of Congressional approval, H.R. 427 would throw all major regulations into a months-long limbo, fostering uncertainty and impeding business investment that is vital to economic growth.”