New Trump Order Removes Protections From American Voters
In just the first month of 2017, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives has passed two bills that are designed to thwart the enforcement of laws that protect Americans from corporate abuse. The REINS Act and the Regulatory Accountability Act seek to interfere with existing laws such as the Endangered Species Act and the Toxic Substances Control Act, which ensure that American families, communities, and natural ecosystems are not placed in extreme peril by corporations willing to do anything to make a profit. The new Republican bills are designed to throw roadblocks into the regulatory process that are so extreme that existing laws cannot be updated to changing conditions. If these bills are passed by the Senate, before long, corporations will be able to defy the law, creating unsafe products, abusing workers, endangering children, and poisoning America’s air and water without consequences.
For right now, there’s a bit of a reprieve with these pieces of legislation, because the Senate is focused on dealing with the various scandals related to Trump’s Cabinet nominations. However, Donald Trump has added to the obstruction of federal protections with his own measure, an executive order that requires that for every existing federal protection from corporate abuse that is created, two other forms of protection must be destroyed.
The kinds of protections that are at stake include food safety regulations that ensure that feces and urine don’t end up in Americans’ food. They include regulations that prevent nuclear power plants from melting down as happened in Chernobyl. They include regulations that mandate the creation of cars that keep their passengers safe. They include provisions that require toys to be safe for the infants and children that play with them.
Robert Weissman, President of Public Citizen, explains, “This unprecedented and untested measure will gut the enforcement of wildly popular and successful laws including the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the Food Safety Modernization Act, the Pipeline Safety Act and many more.”
Trump’s executive order doesn’t just raise the spectre of the elimination of federal provisions that keep Americans safe. It also slows down the rule-making process by requiring the same long process of public comment and committee review for all three rules – the proposed new rule, and both rules that are proposed for elimination.
That provision of the executive order takes on special meaning in the light of a provision in the REINS Act that declares any proposed rule to be null and void if it does not go through ordinary approval procedures and receive redundant congressional approval within a very short amount of time. Trump’s executive order, and the Republican legislation meant to accompany it, aren’t intended to ensure that the government enacts effective and fair regulations. They’re intended to block all regulation of corporate activity, regardless of the quality of regulations, sabotaging American government, and making it possible to corporations to get away with practically anything.