Grabbing The REINS

So this bill, if passed by the Senate and signed by Il Trumpe, will be a disaster–and it went virtually unoticed (boldface mine):

Last week, under the cover of a media bliss-out except among Koch funded right-wing channels, the House of Representatives passed a bill which would effectively repeal future standard setting under every important environmental, public health, consumer protection, labor standards, occupational safety and civil rights law on the books.

The bill, called the REINS Act, requires that any future major regulation adopted by an Executive Agency — say a new toxic chemical standard required by the recently enacted Chemical Safety Act, or a new consumer protection rule about some innovative but untested kind of food additive — must be approved by a specific resolution in each House of Congress within 70 days to take effect.

To give a sense of the scale of this road-block, in 2015 there were 43 such major federal regulations passed to protect the public; among them were food safety regulations, the Clean Power Plan regulating pollution from electrical generating facilities, net neutrality rules protecting the internet from monopoly, restrictions on predatory lending and energy efficiency standards for appliances.

If the REINS Act had been in effect, it’s unlikely that the Tea Party-dominated Republican caucus in the House would have approved of any of these rules. Future standard setting under the entire body of legislation enacted over the past 40 years to protect the public, from the Clean Air Act to the Dodd Frank financial sector reforms, would be frozen. Over time, as new health, safety, consumer and labor protection issues arise, all of these laws will effectively have been repealed, with no public debate and no accountability. It will also be impossible to restore them as long as the REINS Act is in effect, because by requiring Congress to approve every regulation, it makes it impossible to pass technically complex and scientifically valid rules on any topic of controversy.

As one example, the REINS Act would totally neuter the new Chemical Safety Act, just passed by the Republican Congress last year. The Act requires EPA to review and set standards for 10 widely abused chemicals in the next six months alone. The Act passed only because in exchange, states gave up much of their power to protect their citizens from toxic chemicals; without that incentive, the Tea Party will certainly act to prevent EPA from restricting the use of these chemicals. But the states only agreed to give up in exchange for the promise that EPA would act. But the REINS act neuters this promise. Even if the House Republican caucus was willing in theory to consider such rules, there is simply no way Congress could add 10-40 new pieces of legislation to its work load in the chemical safety area alone. In fact, the House also just passed legislation to allow it to REPEAL all of President Obama’s regulatory acts in the last eight months of his term in office with ONE vote. Why? Because House members said there was not time for individual votes on each rule — exactly the requirement they just established for new rules.

Worse, Congress totally lacks the technical competence to review these kinds of complex rules. Do we really want members of Congress deciding whether a chemical can safely be used in food packaging? Or the proper procedures for approving new drugs as safe and effective? Or setting the allowable safety standard for heavy metals in drinking water?

One of the most unsung, yet critical, public health initiatives–or at least mostly forgotten–was the massive reduction in airborne and waterborne pollution. Lead pollution alone had (and still has) massive effects on the likelihood of committing crime and on educational outcomes.

This bill would likely condemn future generations to what can only be described as physical or mental retardation. All so businesses can make even more money. Despicable.

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7 Responses to Grabbing The REINS

  1. Gingerbaker says:

    How can this be Constitutional? Congress can’t regulate the Executive, can it?

    • Min says:

      Sure, it is constitutional. Congress makes the laws. The executive carries them out. In this regard, Congress gets to tell the executive what to do. Unless the law itself is unconstitutional, OC.

      • Min says:

        I am not a lawyer, but perhaps if not approving a regulation amounted to repealing the law that regulation carries out, that would be unconstitutional, since a repeal is subject to a Presidential veto.

      • Gingerbaker says:

        The President, as Chief of the Executive branch, determines policy of Executive departments. This law by Congress countermands his authority to do so, and would therefore, it seems to me, be unConstitutional.

        • Gingerbaker says:

          It would be like a Presidential Executive Order which said that Congress can pass no laws on a particular topic.

        • Min says:

          Regulations are not policy per se. They are instruments to carry out laws. Ultimately, that puts Congress in charge of regulations. Yes, the reason for the REINS act is to take control of policy. Republicans are anti-regulation. But that does not mean that the act is unconstitutional.

          In recent years we have seen some state legislatures pass laws intended to circumvent the power of their governors. This law is in the same spirit.

  2. Reblogged this on Wide Awake But Dreaming and commented:
    The GOP can’t wait for a Dystopia to get here…

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