UPDATE: The House passed the REINS Act by 241-184 at 5:30 PM on December 7.
Article One of the United States Constitution established and enumerated the powers vested in the Legislative Branch. The core tenet is that “all legislative powers” were “herein granted” to Congress. Not to the Judicial Branch, and not to the Executive Branch. This was the establishment of the principle of the separation of powers. Congress was given the exclusive authority to make laws, and Congress was not to delegate that legislative authority to the other branches.
However today the trend, either through the laxness of Congress, or usurpation of power by the Executive Branch, has been for federal agencies residing within the Executive Branch to issue thousands of regulations carrying the force of law, often with severe consequences, for just about every occupation and business in the United States. According to the Heritage Foundation, the “administrative state,” is a bit of a fourth branch of government wherein “bureaucrats make law, execute law, and adjudicate” as well. This administrative state is completely inconsistent with Article One.
We have been afforded yet another opportunity to return some of the vested legislative authority back to Congress with H.R. 10, the REINS Act — Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act. The House will consider H.R. 10 on or about December 7. The House bill already has 204 cosponsors. There is a companion bill in the Senate, S. 299.
The REINS Act would provide “that major rules of the executive branch shall have no force or effect unless a joint resolution of approval is enacted into law.” New, major regulation that costs more than $100 million per year, would lead to major increases in consumer prices, or would create substantial job losses must be approved by Congress. From 2009 until March 2011 over 75 major regulations costing $100 million or more annually were imposed on the economy and consumers in the private sector by unaccountable federal agencies. The Small business Administration says total regulatory costs average about $1.75 trillion annually which often prevents investment and new growth in business.
Whether it be the FCC, the FDA, EPA, USDA, DOJ, DOL, or any other of the alphabet-soup agencies, that are inflicting costly regulation on consumers or businesses, REINS would ensure that Congressmen can no longer blame the federal agencies, as they would have to review all excessive and burdensome regulations, going on record with a vote, up or down. It’s a win-win situation — Congress becomes more accountable by holding federal agencies accountable, all under the vigilant eyes of the general electorate.
There are many large and powerful organizations who oppose the REINS Act — teachers unions, Big Labor, pro-abortion groups, gay and lesbian groups, the recording industry, and even farm organizations. However construction trade groups and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are supporting the bill. Most importantly, this country’s citizens are overwhelmingly in favor of regulatory reform.
It’s about time Congress asserts itself and begins once again to exercise its proper authority under the Constitution over regulatory policy. Contact your Representative and Senators and insist they support H.R. 10 and S. 299, the REINS Act. Isn’t that why you elected them?