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House Votes to Undermine Public Protections

06 Dec 2011  |   Ashley Friedman

Tags: Congress, Administration, House

The current attempts by House Republicans to undercut environment and public health safeguards continues with the three-pronged attack by the Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act (H.R. 527), Regulatory Accountability Act (RAA-H.R. 3010), and the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act (REINS-H.R. 10). The first two bills were passed last week in the House 263-159 with 28 Democrats in favor and 252-167 with 19 Democrats voting in favor, respectively. The latter, the REINS Act, is scheduled for a vote this week.

All three bills will delay if not completely halt the already sluggish regulatory process. Regulations already take a 6 to 8 year period to be finalized today (2 presidential terms). H.R. 527 and H.R. 3010 add years to this process by requiring further analyses on indirect impacts, demanding cost-benefit analyses of an endless number of regulation alternatives, and opening the door for a litany of litigation to prevent enactment. The REINS Act completely upsets the regulatory process by allowing either house of Congress, and perhaps even a single Senator, to block enforcement of existing statutory protections. All three bills make necessary regulations nearly impossible to enact and are a threat to public health, worker and food safety, and the environment.

Even Bruce Bartlett, senior advisor in the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations has called the House leadership’s focus on rolling back regulations “… a simple case of political opportunism, not a serious effort to deal with high unemployment.” Furthermore, experts and multiple surveys agree: regulations are not harming the economy. As the Washington Post recently reported, executives surveyed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2010 said less than 1 percent (0.3 %) of the people who lost their jobs in layoffs were let go because of “government regulations/intervention.” By comparison, 25 percent were laid off because of a drop in business demand.

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