As incomprehensible as it seems, the Republican leaders in Congress are pulling out the stops to undermine crucial public protections. They seem hellbent on hamstringing agencies that are supposed to be protecting our air, water, land and more.
The vehicle they focused on today was the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act (H.R. 10). Here is a statement from the newly formed Coalition for Sensible Safeguards, of which Public Citizen is a member:
The House Judiciary Committee moved one step closer today to approving the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act (H.R. 10), a bill that would undermine the public protections most crucial to our health, safety, environment and economy. The Coalition for Sensible Safeguards (CSS) strongly opposes the REINS Act and its attempts to radically alter the balance of power in government and jeopardize the public interest.
The REINS Act would require congressional approval of all major federal rules within 70 legislative days. Without approval, the rules would be nullified. If enacted, the bill will mire these rules in congressional gridlock and endanger the commonsense standards that protect the food our families eat, the air our children breathe and the products we buy for our homes. The bill could also undermine new laws regulating Wall Street and expanding access to health care.
During today’s hearing of the Subcommittee on Courts, Commercial and Administrative Law, a letter sent by 72 labor, environmental, consumer advocacy, health care and other public interest organizations opposing the REINS Act was entered into the record. “H.R. 10 would threaten new safeguards by causing unnecessary delay,” the groups wrote. “H.R. 10 would also give special interests another opportunity to undermine public protections.”
Nonetheless, committee leaders indicated the REINS Act will soon be voted on by the Judiciary Committee, where it is likely to be approved. Once approved, the bill will move to the full House of Representatives. CSS believes House leaders will make the bill a high priority.
David Goldston, director of government affairs for the Natural Resources Defense Council (a member organization of CSS), testified before the committee. Goldston was the only witness on the panel opposed to H.R. 10:
“The bill could, in effect, impose a slow-motion government shutdown, and it would replace a process based on expertise, rationality and openness with one characterized by political maneuvering, economic clout and secrecy,” Goldston stated in his written testimony. “The public would be less protected, and the political system would be more abused. Indeed, it is hard to imagine a more far-reaching, fundamental and damaging shift in the way the government goes about its business of safeguarding the public.”
The Coalition for Sensible Safeguards is a coalition of consumer, labor, scientific, research, good government, faith, community, health, environmental, and public interest groups, as well as concerned individuals, joined in the belief that our country’s system of regulatory safeguards provides a stable framework that secures our quality of life and paves the way for a sound economy that benefits us all.
The next step? A markup by the same subcommittee.