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REINS Act Unleashes Dangers Across America

Yesterday, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass the REINS Act, H.R. 26. The REINS Act prevents federal agencies from passing administrative rules according to authority already provided by Congress. Under the REINS Act, new administrative rules could only take effect if Congress passes new legislation specifically authorizing the rules within 70 days.

The problem is that Congress almost never passes legislation within 70 days. If it becomes law, the REINS Act will ensure that only rules that are designed to serve powerful corporate interests will be instituted.

Administrative rules are the means by which the federal government ensures that existing laws effectively serve the general public. Congress has already granted the Executive Branch the power to make these rules. They’re a legal part of the process of good government that adapts to changing conditions, not an unconstitutional aberration from it.

If the REINS Act deprives federal agencies of their ability to create new administrative rules, we won’t see the effects right away. However, as conditions change over time, federal responses will need to adapt to them, and that will require new rules.

Administrative rules are like the motor oil that keeps the engine of the federal government running efficiently. When the REINS Act stops federal agencies from crafting rules, it’s like the owner of a car deciding to stop replacing the car’s motor oil. For a while, the car will run just fine. As time goes on, however, the car will experience an increasing number of problems, until it simply breaks down by the side of the road.

That’s what the Republicans who voted for the REINS Act are trying to do to the United States of America.

The Republicans want you to believe that breaking down the process of federal rulemaking won’t cause problems for the American people, but the GOP rejection of a series of attempted amendments offered by Democrats to the REINS Act proves that isn’t the case. In each instance, congressional Republicans voted specifically against the ability of federal agencies to protect people from real, serious threats to their health and safety.

U.S. Representative Bobby Scott offered an amendment to the REINS Act that would preserve the ability for the Mine Safety and Health Administration to protect miners from potentially deadly working conditions underground. The Republicans in Congress voted against protecting miners – they voted to kill the Scott Amendment.

U.S. Representative Jerry McNerney offered an amendment to preserve the ability to make rules that ensure the safety of pipelines transporting hazardous materials across America. The Republicans in Congress voted against protecting Americans from these hazardous materials – they voted to kill the McNerney Amendment.

congress h.r. 26U.S. Representative Jerrold Nadler offered an amendment to preserve the ability to make rules to prevent the meltdown of nuclear reactors at aging power plants. The Republicans in Congress voted against protecting Americans from nuclear meltdowns – they voted to kill the Nadler Amendment.

U.S. Representative Hank Johnson offered an amendment to preserve the ability to make rules to protect babies under the age of 2 from dangerous new products. The Republicans in Congress voted against protecting babies – they voted to kill the Johnson Amendment.

U.S. Representative John Conyers offered an amendment to preserve the ability to make rules to prevent the contamination of families’ drinking water with lead, which leads to developmental handicaps in children. The Republicans in Congress voted against protecting children from lead poisoning – they voted to kill the Conyers Amendment.

U.S. Representative Kathy Castor offered an amendment to preserve the ability to make rules to prevent children from getting cancer and asthma. Republicans in Congress voted against preventing children from getting cancer and asthma.

The only protection the REINS Act provides is for corporations that seek to profit by operating recklessly, endangering American workers and families with toxic pollution and sloppy product design.

If it becomes law, the REINS Act will unleash a dark period in American history in which the government abandons its constitutional duty to protect the general welfare, as corporations cut corners and the American people pay the consequences.

4 thoughts on “REINS Act Unleashes Dangers Across America”

  1. Norm Nunnally says:

    BS- This act will stop the egregious acts being committed by an out of control Bureaucracy. We have too many, WAY too many, career bureaucrats whose only goal in life is to increase the amounts of government employees so their own payrolls will increase as their seniority and tenure grows. They are an unchecked and totally mismanaged segment of society. If we begin having less onerous rules and regulations applied to us by these unelected sycophants who promulgate these ‘rules’ to favor special interest groups who are greasing the rails with soft money, then we will begin to regain our freedoms that so many have died and served to protect.

    1. J Clifford says:

      No, Norm.

      Congress already has the power to overrule acts it interprets as egregious when conducted through Executive rulemaking authority that was previously granted by Congress.

      What the REINS Act does is to create a BLANKET ban on government rulemaking, even though that rulemaking is conducted under explicit existing congressional authorization.

      The REINS Act was passed by the Republicans in a form that specifically refused to maintain the government’s ability to keep toxins out of the formula that babies drink. What part of protecting babies do you think is too onerous, Norm?

      The REINS Act was passed by Republicans who refused to allow an amendment to allow protections from lead in the water that America’s children are drinking. Do you think that American children are a special interest, Norm?

      Is it an egregious act for the government to use its congressionally established authority to prevent childhood cancer, Norm?

      Can you identify which soldiers died to protect the right of companies running nuclear power plants to be free from regulations that ensure those nuclear reactors don’t go into meltdown?

      You spout off conventional right wing excuses, Norm, but you don’t address the specific content of this article.

      That’s because, of course, there is no excuse for putting babies, children, and entire American communities in harm’s way.

      Your facile anti-bureaucracy platitudes can’t make up for that, Norm.

  2. Tom says:

    Inherently democratic, the REINS Act would empower the legislative branch, which is desperately needed.
    In a constitutional nutshell, the “Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act” creates a congressional veto over some executive actions. Congress would have 70 days to approve any major rules issued by an administrative agency or the rule would die. This means that if the EPA, IRS, or FDA wants to issue a significant regulation, a single chamber of Congress could easily stop them.
    That’s not the case at the moment. The executive branch has steadily encroached on Congress’s authority. Growing administrative agencies have overshadowed an anemic Congress, allowing unaccountable bureaucrats to govern in place of elected lawmakers. Obama seemed like a super-legislator, but he was just strutting a few more steps on the march that all of his predecessors also marched.

    1. J Clifford says:

      Tom, your understanding of the REINS Act is not accurate.

      The REINS Act isn’t a veto power. It’s a blanket block on all new rules. Furthermore, it requires that federal agencies arbitrarily destroy existing protections for children, families, and communities regardless of whether those protections are effective or not.

      The REINS Act is a blunt instrument intended simply to destroy the ability of the federal government to enforce existing legislation approved by Congress. It’s an attempt to take the power away from ALL past legislation that protects Americans from abusive corporations, and to give corporations the upper hand in their attempt to evade accountability.

      Also, there hasn’t been encroachment on the power of Congress by the Executive through the use of rules. Congress set the rulemaking powers up themselves, because static legislation that can’t adapt to changing conditions creates unresponsive bureaucracy.

      Congress already had the power to overturn any executive rule. All it had to do was pass legislation doing so.

      The REINS Act is inherently UNdemocratic because it makes it nearly impossible for the federal government to act – either through Congress or through the Executive Branch – in response to popular demand. It doesn’t strengthen the Legislative Branch. It merely weakens the federal government as a whole, without distinction between good government and bad.

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