Bill giving Congress power over regulations draws veto threat

The White House threatened Wednesday to veto legislation requiring congressional approval of the most expensive regulations issued by federal agencies, saying the measure would undermine basic government functions.

The House is expected to vote as soon as Friday to approve the Regulations From the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act, which would require both chambers of Congress to sign off on regulations carrying an annual price tag of $100 million or more.

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In a formal critique of the bill, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) said the bill, if passed, would reflect an unprecedented and unjustified power shift in Washington.

“This radical departure from the longstanding separation of powers between the Executive and Legislative branches would delay and, in many cases, thwart implementation of statutory mandates and execution of duly-enacted laws,” the OMB policy statement says.

The REINS Act has been introduced in each of the last three Congresses, as Republicans increasingly bash federal agencies for the increasing number of rules they say are straining businesses and stifling the nation’s economic recovery.

Some private sector groups have thrown their support behind the latest incarnation of the bill, which was introduced by Rep. Todd Young (R-Ind.).

Among them is the National Association of Federal Credit Unions (NAFCU), which has complained about what the group considers to be unintended impacts of regulations drafted in accordance with the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform law.

Increased congressional oversight is needed, the group said Wednesday in a letter to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), urging them to support the measure.

“NAFCU believes putting this legislative process into place could help ensure additional accountability from the Administration and Congress regardless of which political party is in the majority."

But the White House argues the REINS Act would only create more problems and “would throw all major regulations into a months-long limbo, fostering uncertainty and impeding business investment that is vital to economic growth.”

If the bill passes as expected in the GOP-controlled House, President Obama's senior advisers would recommend he veto it, according to OMB.