By Amit Narang
As the saying goes, “elections have consequences.” Donald Trump’s election certainly has, leading to the rolling back and gutting of hundreds of regulations that protect the health and safety of workers, consumers, children, minorities and the environment. However, the most recent power shift—the House moving to leadership by a pro-safeguards majority– has begun providing a critical check, by ensuring that legislation being pushed by corporate special interests to make it harder for our government agencies to bring back the protections that we’ve lost under Trump has no chance of passage. That’s good news for those who want our government to work for hardworking Americans and their families, not for huge corporations.
When the Republicans controlled the U.S. House of Representatives, they passed numerous pieces of anti-regulatory legislation with vague, neutral sounding titles like the “Regulatory Accountability Act” and the “Unfunded Mandates Reform Act.” Far from being neutral and balanced, these bills were designed to make it harder for our regulatory agencies to protect the public by creating more avenues in the rulemaking process for corporate special interests to influence government officials. While many passed the House under Republican control, none passed the U.S. Senate or even made it to the Senate floor.
If there was any doubt that anti-regulatory legislation will go nowhere now that voters have put the House back in Democratic control, a leading Democrat in the House who chairs the committee that such legislation would have to go through just put those to bed. Earlier this week, U.S. Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), Chair of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law had this to say about the prospects for anti-regulatory legislation in his committee: “These bills are handouts to corporate special interests. They are dead on arrival.”
Cicilline has a strong track record of fighting for consumer, worker, environmental and minority and LGBTQ protections. He has been vocal in opposing the Trump administration’s radical deregulatory agenda and the stream of corporate lobbyists that have been tapped to run agencies that are supposed to be regulating the very corporations those lobbyists once worked for.
Senate Republicans are likely to keep wasting time pushing the same anti-regulatory legislation to “lock in” the deregulatory damage being caused by this administration so that it’s harder for government agencies in the future to bring back the protections the public lost. Fortunately, those bills don’t stand a chance with Cicilline and other leaders in the House, who instead will be focused on pointing out how the Trump administration is failing to safeguard the public in order to protect corporate profits.