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After Nearly 20 Years, CEI Applauds Victory on REINS Act

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After Nearly 20 Years, CEI Applauds Victory on REINS Act

House-passed Bill Would Force Congress to Vote On Most Expensive Regs

WASHINGTON, DC, August 2, 2013 – Wayne Crews, vice president of policy and director of technical studies at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, had the following to say about legislation to require Congress to vote on the most expensive federal regulations:

“The most important element of controlling the regulatory state is to make Congress directly accountable for every dollar of costs agencies impose on the public, preferably by requiring Congress to vote to approve agencies’ final rules.”

This quote is not new. It appeared in 1996 in a Washington Post story on “10,000 Commandments,” Crews’ annual look at regulatory costs and their impact on the economy.

But it is dusted off here because a battle CEI has fought for nearly 20 years turned decisively in its favor Friday when the U.S. House of Representatives approved the Regulations from the Executive In Need of Scrutiny – or REINS Act by a vote of 232-183. The measure, introduced by Rep. Todd Young, R-Ind., would require Congress to vote up or down on any regulation deemed to have more than $100 million in impact on the U.S. economy.

The measure, if approved by the Senate and signed by the president, would affect 100 of the more than 3,000 regulations government promulgates each year. It would call for up-or-down votes, with no amendments, on each regulation.

“This is a great day for American taxpayers,” Crews said on Friday. “Between ObamaCare and President Obama’s pledge to remake American energy policy through the regulatory process, it’s more important than ever Congress exercise its constitutional authority to vote on these executive actions that impose significant costs on the public.”

The House also approved an amendment to the bill, offered by Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., that put the House on record against enactment of a carbon tax.  The amendment, which would prevent the executive branch from imposing through regulation a tax on carbon dioxide emissions without authorization from Congress, carried by a vote of 237-176.

The House also approved an amendment to the bill, offered by Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., that put the House on record against a carbon tax.  The amendment, which would prevent the executive branch from imposing through regulation a tax on carbon dioxide emissions without authorization from Congress, carried by a vote of 237-176.

All 225 Republicans on hand voted for it, along with 12 Democrats – Ron Barber of Arizona, John Barrow of Georgia, Sanford Bishop of Georgia, Henry Cuellar of Texas, William Enyart of Illinois, Jim Matheson of Utah, Mike McIntyre of North Carolina, Collin Peterson of Minnesota, Nick Rahall of West Virginia, Krysten Sinema of Arizona, Filemon Vela of Texas and Tim Walz of Minnesota.

Myron Ebell, director of CEI’s Center for Energy and Environment, said the amendment helped clarify things for American voters.

“The 176 who voted against the amendment are now on record supporting raising taxes on energy,” said Ebell. “Americans don’t need higher taxes.  What would help the American economy and create jobs is more affordable energy.  But 176 Democratic members of the House seem to think raising revenue for the federal government is more important than people struggling to pay their electric and gas bills.”