The bill would set up an additional hurdle for federal agencies looking to enact new rules – a welcome development for congressional Republicans who say federal agencies have overreached with an onslaught of onerous regulations in recent years.
“Introducing a legislative check before a rule becomes effective could produce greater oversight of the regulatory process,” AAF concluded in its analysis.
The group examined the five most expensive rules proposed thus far in 2013, finding they would, together, cost $47.5 billion and impose nearly 11 million hours of paperwork burden on the private sector.
That includes more than $35 billion in estimated costs from proposed regulations designed to limit air pollution from vehicles and more than $10 billion for a long-sought food safety overhaul, among other big-ticket items.
Already, Congress has the authority to overturn regulations under the Congressional Review Act via a joint resolution of disapproval. But that can only occur after a rule is finalized and it has only happened once – following the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s enactment of a rule on ergonomics.
The REINS Act, which has attracted 164 co-sponsors, would require Congress to sign off on costly rules before they take effect.
Nothing would compel Congress to reject all expensive regulations, but they would have the opportunity to review every major rule,” AAF found.
Public interest groups have assailed the bill as an overt GOP effort to block important public protections at the behest of industry groups.
The Coalition for Sensible Safeguards — an organization made up of dozens of public interest, labor and consumer groups — sent a letter to House lawmakers imploring them to oppose the bill.
In particular, the groups point to a provision requiring both chambers of Congress to approve rules within 70 days after they are issued.
“REINS would allow nothing more than congressional inaction to block such a commonsense, non-controversial rule,” contends the coalition, which also has criticized similar reports for failing to incorporate benefits regulatory cost estimates.
House members are slated to vote on the bill, part of the GOP’s “Stop Government Abuse Week" agenda, before departing Friday for their August recess.