Famously efficient Congress would like to read, debate, and vote on all major regulations before they go into effect

You know how when children are misbehaving in class and acting up, teachers and parents will say it’s because the child isn’t being given enough work? Apparently Representative Geoff Davis (R-Ky.) and the 83 cosponsors of the Regulations from the Executive In Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act just aren’t being challenged enough. Not content with simply not passing budgets, failing to confirm nominees, filibustering and anonymously holding legislation, and generally failing to legislate; they’d also like federal agencies to run all major regulations by Congress before they go into effect.

Rep. Davis, claims this legislation “would end the practice of Congress avoiding accountability through vaguely drafted legislation by requiring a vote on the most burdensome regulations generated by those laws. Members of Congress should never have an option to avoid responsibility for the effects of the laws they pass.” House Republicans complained often about the legislation of the last Congress, but I don’t think anyone was criticizing how vague anything was. On the contrary, these are legislators who offer huge amendments to bills for the sole purpose of delaying them, who complain that they never have enough time to read the legislation, and who judge the value of legislation by how thick it is. Now they want more stuff to read?

And despite what Rep. Davis says, members of Congress don’t have the option of avoiding responsibility for the effects of the laws they pass; they have elections. They also already assert their will on the agencies through the appropriations process in the House and by confirming or refusing to confirm agency personnel in the Senate.

This bill, which supporters claim is about accountability and transparency, is about neither. Rather, it is part of a broader attempt to hinder and degrade the federal agencies’ ability to protect the public. It would also inject politics, special interest groups, and campaign contributions into what is usually a nonpartisan, scientific, and technical rulemaking process. And it would make Congress move even more slowly, resulting in bigger legislative backlogs, stalled nominees, funding emergencies, and greater public disdain for the government.