Two Republican legislators are hoping to institute more transparency in the enactment of regulations, but are likely to run into resistance from the White House if the effort advances that far.
Last week, Kentucky U.S. Senator Rand Paul and Indiana U.S. Representative Todd Young introduced the "Regulations from the Executive in Needs of Security (REINS) Act." The key feature of the REINS Act is that it requires the president to submit a report of proposed regulations to Congress that have "an annual economic impact of $100 million or more."
In a press release, Paul said:
"If the Obama Administration wants to impose regulations that effectively operate as laws on US citizens, it is important that those citizens are made aware of how the laws come to be. Cutting red tape and opening the regulatory process to scrutiny is an important first step in holding government accountable." - U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.)
"Requiring an up-or-down vote by Congress on major regulations restores the notion that the legislative branch is in charge of writing laws, brings transparency to our regulatory system, and ensures our constituents know who is responsible when burdensome regulations take effect." - U.S. Rep. Todd Young (R-Ind.)
Paul's fellow Kentuckian, U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie (R), added his support, saying it was an effort to restore Congress' own authority on the matter:
"Congress has delegated its authority to unaccountable federal agencies over the past decades . . . Unelected bureaucrats do not have the constitutional authority to write laws. Only Congress has this power, and ceding it to federal agencies undermines our representative form of government." - U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.)
Paul and Young introduced a version of the REINS Act in 2013. With 164 cosponsors -- all Republican -- the Act passed the House, but never received a vote in the Senate. The new version would face a Republican-controlled Senate, and the Senate Judiciary Chairman, Chuck Grassley of Iowa, supports the bill:
"The new Congress brings with it a new opportunity to take a close look at the true impact of an unchecked regulatory system, and to consider common sense solutions that seek to restore accountability and transparency to the rule making process." - U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa)
The latest version of the REINS Act was introduced not long after President Obama told the FCC to extend its authority over telephone companies to include Internet service providers "in order to implement net neutrality rules." The commission's authority is based on Title II of the Communications Act:
"The problem is that Title II was enacted in 1934," Cameron Smith, national director of the Liberty Foundation for America, wrote in a recent Forbes editorial. "In other words, the president is suggesting that the FCC write a critical rule with massive economic implications by 'interpreting' an 80-year-old delegation of congressional authority."
President Obama promised to veto previous versions of the REINS Act as well as another regulatory reform bill that already passed the House in January. However, the American people may be ready for Congress to take up some form of regulatory reform. A September 2014 Gallup poll found that over 50 percent of respondents believe the government already over-regulates businesses.
Photo Source: The Verge