Republicans should stop Elizabeth Warren's effort to expand the regulatory state
© Keren Carrion

When will Republicans learn to govern like a majority? Right now they are allowing one of the most liberal Senators in the country, Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenFederal court rules consumer bureau structure unconstitutional Election Countdown: Family separation policy may haunt GOP in November | Why Republican candidates are bracing for surprises | House Dems rake in record May haul | 'Dumpster fire' ad goes viral The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — GOP lawmakers race to find an immigration fix MORE (D-Mass.), to attach an amendment to Republican legislation that would expand federal regulation of sound amplification devices. 

Conservatives members were not allowed to attach conservative amendments to Democratic bills when they were in the minority, so why would Republicans allow liberal members to use a Republican piece of legislation to achieve a major win for big government? But if House Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and members of his committee don’t act — and fast — Warren's proposal could become law.

The House Committee will soon take up legislation known as The Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA) and some members are carrying water for Warren in supporting the inclusion of one of her proposals. The senator is pushing the Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act which would regulate sound amplification devices in the same manner as medical hearing aids. The proposal would expand the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) authority to encompass the devices, which are presently sold by outlets like Best Buy and Bass Pro Shops to hunters, bird watchers and other average Americans.

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The proposal was introduced in the House by Rep. Joseph Kennedy III (D-Mass.) and has been co-sponsored by Republicans including Tennessee Rep. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnWhat the net neutrality repeal means Dem Senate super PAC reserves million in fall TV ads Scalise throws support behind Black, Blackburn ahead of Tennessee primary MORE, Nebraska Rep. Don Bacon, and Georgia Rep. Buddy Carter. It's been rightly described by 20 conservative groups as a "big government ploy to create more regulations."

 

While it should not come as a shock that Warren wants to increase regulation, it is shocking that Republicans would allow it to become law.

Unlike her normal demands to establish more bureaucracy, higher taxes and more government regulation, Warren and her allies are couching their arguments in the free market. They claim the bill would deregulate the hearing aid industry and lead to greater access.

As expected, the Warren bill expands the power of the federal government and tramples on states' rights. The proposal would prevent the states from having a role in the regulatory process, categorizing the devices as “over-the-counter.”

As with any government intervention, consumers would end up paying more and getting less. Sound amplifying devices are readily available and accessible to anyone for any reason. Categorizing them as an FDA “over-the-counter” device only adds an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy.

The scheme has little to do with consumer protection and everything to do with cronyism. It's been reported that major corporations like Samsung and Bose will quickly move into the market with new “quasi” hearing aids should Warren's proposal succeed, marketing their devices as “over-the-counter” hearing aids.

Republicans in the House and Senate must ask themselves two questions. First, why should the GOP support increasing the role of government and growing bureaucracy? Secondly, do they believe Warren’s argument that her proposal would make sound amplification devices more accessible?

The answer is obvious. Walden and his allies on the Commerce Committee should stay true to principles and not adopt a piece of legislation being championed by liberal, pro-regulatory Elizabeth Warren.

 

Jerry Rogers (@CapitolAllies) is the vice president of the Institute for Liberty, a conservative nonprofit based in Washington, D.C.


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