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Next Week in Corporate Congress: Despite Budget Deal, Public Still Jeopardized

Photo by paigeh via flickr
Photo by paigeh via flickr

A budget deal has been cut, but the fight isn’t over. The public is still at risk.

Lawmakers still must work on individual appropriations bills, which will have to fit within the framework agreed upon this week. During that appropriations process, corporate-backed lawmakers will try to attach to the bills ideological policy riders that they couldn’t get passed otherwise. We’re talking about policies that deny women access to the health care provider of their choice; block safeguards that protect our homes, pocketbooks and workplaces; lower standards that keep our food, air and water safe; and more.

Also on our radar screen:

– Lawmakers hold yet another hearing designed to undermine the regulatory system. This one comes on Thursday, when the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs’ Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management discusses the best way to review regulations. The wording of the notice trots out the usual rhetoric about burdensome rules and comes just a week after Sens. Angus King (I-Maine), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) announced the formation of a “regulations caucus,” ostensibly to address “overregulation.”

The focus of the caucus and next week’s hearing is wrong. At a time when people are being killed and injured by defective airbags, when entire towns are in harm’s way because they are in the path of dangerous oil trains, when many workers are still not adequately protected from workplace hazards, the problem isn’t too much regulation – it’s too little. In fact, regulations are a great investment. In a draft of its latest annual report (PDF) to Congress, the White House Office of Management and Budget found that the monetary benefits of rules dramatically outweigh their costs.

The regulatory process is too slow and too captured by industry to protect Americans. Instead of attacking safeguards, Congress should investigate why regulations are so slow to be issued and so poorly enforced.

– Fossil fuel boosters will continue to try to block the Obama administration’s climate rule. Lawmakers are using the Congressional Review Act (CRA) in an attempt to block implementation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s new rules to limit carbon dioxide emissions from new and existing power plants. The lawmakers pushing it (Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield, both of Kentucky, and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.)) hail from states whose residents will fare quite well under the rule for existing power plants. Consumers will save money because they will use less power, a Public Citizen analysis shows.