Next Week in Corporate Congress: Safeguards Attack

Business for DemocracyThe Corporate Congress is back in town, and next week, lawmakers will step up their attacks on public safeguards and make another run at limiting Americans’ access to the courts. They are among the issues on Public Citizen’s radar:

– At 10 a.m. Wednesday, the U.S. Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on a raft of bills that would dramatically curtail the ability of federal agencies to protect our air, water, workplaces, financial system and more. The bills include: 1) The Regulatory Improvement Act (S. 708); 2) The Independent Agency Regulatory Analysis Act (S. 1607); 3) The Principled Rulemaking Act (S. 1817); 4) The Smarter Regulations Through Advance Planning and Review Act (S. 1818); 5) The Early Participation in Regulations Act (S. 1820); and 6) The All Economic Regulations are Transparent Act (H.R. 1759).

Here’s a taste of how damaging these bills are. The Independent Agency Regulatory Analysis Act would deny agencies such as the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission their independence, which now insulates them from the distorting influence of political pressure. The Regulatory Improvement Act would establish a commission to modify, consolidate and repeal existing regulations to reduce costs for business while ignoring the benefits these safeguards provide. The Early Participation in Regulations Act would require agencies to issue advance notices of their rules – a redundant and often unnecessary step that would prevent agencies from responding swiftly to urgent public health and safety threats. Go to SensibleSafeguards.org for more details.

– We also hear that the full U.S. House of Representatives will vote on the Responsibly And Professionally Invigorating Development (RAPID) Act next week. This dangerous attack on safeguards would make it easier for corporations to get permits without addressing health, safety and environmental concerns.

– The House likely will vote on the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act, which would do the very opposite of its title. In fact, the measure could dissuade workers and consumers from seeking compensation for harm caused by corporate wrongdoing. It would increase abusive litigation by corporate wrongdoers and obstruct Americans’ access to justice especially in critical cases, such as those alleging civil rights violations.

– Finally, we continue to keep an eye on activity related to inappropriate and ideological policy riders attached to funding bills. This week, a coalition of 178 groups – representing tens of millions of Americans – urged President Barack Obama and all 535 members of Congress to oppose any federal appropriations bill that contains such policy riders.