REINS is a Major Step Toward Restoring Constitutional Balance in GovernmentBy Congressman Geoff Davis (R-KY)
Article Date: 10-01-2010
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For too long, Congress has delegated an unwarranted level of authority to unelected bureaucrats in the Executive Branch for major decisions that affect you, your company, and your family.
Members of Congress vote on legislation, but the devil is always in the details. The details of the legislation, which will directly impact you, are often left for unelected government employees to determine. This is an all-too common occurrence that lets Congress off the hook for major federal regulations that impact your everyday life.
Last year, a constituent came to me with an idea to improve the transparency of and accountability for the thousands of new Executive Branch rules and regulations. As a result, I introduced H.R. 3765, the Regulations from the Executive In Need of Scrutiny Act – also known as the REINS Act.
The REINS Act would require that Congress must affirmatively approve any new major rule proposed by a federal agency, such as the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, before it can be enforced on the American people. By statutory definition, a major rule has an annual economic impact of at least $100 million or major increases in costs or prices for consumers.
Take for example, the new trilliondollar health care law. Members of Congress voted on a 2,000-page bill that, according to Congressional Research Service estimates, has more than 40 provisions that require, permit or contemplate federal rulemaking.
These regulatory processes will fill in major holes within the legislation. Just as one example, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is given the power to determine what type of health insurance the government will deem “acceptable” for you and your family.
The future of environmental policy is yet another critical area in which the REINS Act could provide meaningful accountability and transparency. After Speaker Pelosi forced the job-killing Cap and Trade bill through the House, the legislation was held up in the Senate. In December 2009, however, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took matters into its own hands and began moving to regulate greenhouse gas emissions on its own without approval from Congress.
Despite the absence of a final decision from Congress, unelected bureaucrats have already finalized regulations that represent a generational shift in environmental policy. These regulations and related proposals threaten families and businesses with high energy prices that will be a permanent burden to growth, recovery, and prosperity.
This is not to say all regulation is bad, but rather that regulation must flow from a constitutionally balanced government where the legislative power remains in a Congress accountable to the American people.
Increasing congressional accountability for federal regulations will create rules that take the impact on American businesses and families into consideration by ensuring their voice is heard in the regulatory process through their representative. REINS will improve the way Washington does business and restore checks and balances in our government.
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