Providing for Consideration of H.R. 427, Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act of 2015by Representative Peter J. Roskam
Posted on 2015-07-28
ROSKAM. I thank the gentleman for yielding.
Mr. Speaker, my friend from Florida asked a rhetorical question. He said: Why spend precious time on this? And here is the reply: Because our constituents' time is precious. Our constituents' time in trying to comply with regulations is precious.
Before I get there, let me just give you a little bit of a history, Mr. Speaker, about my understanding of the genesis of the REINS Act. It is interesting from a process point of view and a substance point of view.
From a process point of view, my understanding is that this came out of a townhall meeting that was hosted and sponsored by our former colleague, Congressman Geoff Davis from Kentucky. He gathered a group of people together and, as I understand the story, one of the constituents raised his hand and he posed this question. He said: Congressman, how is it possible that the Environmental Protection Agency is contemplating a rule that is so controversial it couldn't pass Congress? How is that even conceivable under our governance structure that unelected bureaucrats are able to accomplish something that the elected Representatives of the people have said ``no'' to? Congressman Davis in a very thoughtful way began to take that in. Out of it, he began to work with other people and put together the REINS Act, Regulations From the Executive in Need of Scrutiny, that says this. It says that over the years, one of the weaknesses of Congress is that this institution has delegated too much responsibility to executive agencies. That is at the base of what we are talking about. This is an issue of delegated authority. And since it was Congress' mistake in terms of atrophying its authority over a period of time, the remedy then falls on Congress to reclaim that authority.
So the gentleman from Georgia is proposing that we support this rule around H.R. 427, and it says this: If there is a regulation that has more than a $100 million impact on the economy, then that regulation ought not be foisted on the economy without discussion and approval by elected Representatives in Congress.
Now, there is a straw man argument that is out there as it relates to this. I haven't heard it on the floor today, but I might hear it if we continue to listen to the debate, particularly during the amendment process and so forth.
Here is the straw man argument. The straw man argument is: If you are in favor of the REINS Act, then you don't want any regulations whatsoever. You want the Wild West, where only the strong survive. That is a straw man. That is ridiculous.
What the REINS Act says is, if you are going to have a regulation, it ought to be thoughtful, it ought to be well structured, it ought to be well debated, and it ought not be a bureaucrat sitting on the seventh floor of a gray building on Independence Avenue that is pursuing an agenda--and haven't we seen plenty of that, by the way--pursuing an agenda, an agenda that couldn't pass this place, an agenda that 218 Members of the House of Representatives and a majority of the Senate are not going to support, but an agenda that a bureaucrat with a political agenda and so forth is trying to move forward.
Now, these numbers are staggering. According to the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the annual cost of complying with government regulations is $1.8 trillion. Think about the downward pressure of that.
What the gentleman from Georgia is saying--and other supporters of this--is let's take President Obama's admonition to the Congress and his admonition to the public, and let's take those words at face value.
This is what the President said in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal. He said that overregulation ``stifles innovation'' and has a ``chilling effect on growth and jobs.'' Absolutely, that is true. That statement is true.
President Obama said in his State of the Union address that same week that the op-ed was published in The Wall Street Journal, January 2011, ``To reduce barriers to growth and investment . . . when we find rules that put an unnecessary burden on business, we will fix them.'' Okay. Great news. We have got the remedy. We have got the way to fix that.
I will tell you, I represent a constituency, Mr. Speaker, in suburban Chicago, as you know, and so, with frequency, I am out talking to businesses, getting in there. I represent a lot of manufacturers. I represent a lot of financial services companies. I represent a lot of food production, transportation, insurance, and other things.
When you talk to folks and ask them what the nature of the challenge is, they will tell you. But what is interesting is the consistency of the feeling of pressure that they feel as it relates to a regulatory burden.
So the good news is we can do something about that, and the good news is we can vote ``aye'' on the rule and we can vote ``aye'' on H.R. 427, the REINS Act.