Washington, D.C., March 8, 2011 — Congress has an opportunity to restore oversight and accountability to federal regulatory agencies run amuck, as the House Judiciary Committee hears testimony today on the REINS Act. The bill, introduced by Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Jim DeMint (R-S.C), requires explicit congressional approval for “major rules,” regulations expected to cost more than $100 million annually.
CEI experts are available to comment on the REINS Act and what it means for different public policy issues.
Wayne Crews, author of Ten Thousand Commandments: An Annual Snapshot of the Federal Regulatory State and featured speaker at a March 22 U.S. Chamber conference on regulatory reform, on the REINS Act:
The federal government need not tell the grass to grow; it just needs to take the rock off of it. In that regard, legislation like the REINS Act would help foster deep-rooted economic recovery.
We’re stuck in today’s over-regulation mess because for too long, lawmakers of both parties have not merely tolerated the delegation of sweeping lawmaking power to unelected agencies, but fostered it. Congress has severed the power to establish regulatory programs from the responsibility for the results of those programs, taking credit for whatever good regulations do but blaming agencies for costs. But voters have no recourse against agencies. It’s an out of control, arguably even unconstitutional, situation that REINS could help bring under control.
Marlo Lewis, CEI Senior Fellow
When an administrative agency issues a rule with major potential impact on society, or when it issues a rule that would initiate a major change in public policy, the people’s representatives should have to approve the rule before it takes effect. Otherwise, we are no longer a self-governing people but a people ruled by bureaucratic elites. (See also, “Put the REINS on EPA”)
John Berlau, Director of CEI’s Center for Investors and Entrepreneurs
The REINS Act, introduced in the Senate by Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and in the House by Rep. Geoff Davis, another Kentuckian, is at heart about accountability in government. The issue is not just one of good politics or even good policy, but of constitutional government as well. Article 1, Section 1 of the Constitution vests “all legislative powers” in the U.S. Congress. Yet what most often happens in today’s administrative state is that regulators in the executive branch, technically charged with enforcing provisions of laws, actually write much of the law as applied. > Read the full statement by John Berlau on Openmarket.org
F. Vincent Vernuccio, JD, CEI Labor Policy Counsel
The REINS act finally gives congress the ability to stop the runaway growth of job killing regulation. Time and again this administration has circumvented the legislative process, having unelected bureaucrats create unpopular requirements that restrict freedom and harm economic growth. Laws that affect Americans must be left to the open democratic, legislative process and not to a shadow government of executive agencies.
> Read more commentary on the REINS Act at cei.org.