McCarthy plans fall offensive on federal regs

Newly minted House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced plans Thursday for a full-scale September assault on federal regulations. 

McCarthy’s floor agenda for the month, unveiled Thursday afternoon, is chock-full of measures designed to clamp down on what Republicans view as an era of overzealous regulation in Washington. 

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“[W]e must remain committed to unapologetically and boldly confronting the Obama Administration and Senate Democrats as they march toward government intrusion in every aspect of our lives,” McCarthy (R-Calif.) wrote in a memo to fellow House Republicans. 

The centerpiece of his push is a package of more than a dozen bills that he said would create jobs and spur economic growth. Roughly half the measures take direct aim at regulations, either by adding new restrictions to agency rulemaking or by giving Congress more control over the process. 

Among them are the Regulations from the Executive In Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act, which would require congressional votes on the most expensive rules, and the Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act, which requires additional analysis and public disclosure of “the true cost” of regulations. 

Other bills wrapped into the legislative package would repeal the Affordable Care Act’s regulation defining a 30-hour workweek as full-time employment and ensuring that scores of rules enacted under the Dodd-Frank financial reform law don’t divert capital from small businesses. 

The package contains a host of provisions that have rattled around both chambers of Congress before. It stands little chance of passage in the Senate and would likely face a veto were it to somehow find its way to the president’s desk. 

Still, the legislation could highlight the GOP’s position on one of the party’s top campaign issues ahead of the pivotal November midterm elections. 

Separately, the House will take up legislation aimed at blocking the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Waters of the United States rule seeking to clarify the agency’s authority over smaller bodies of water. 

“The Obama Administration’s federal power grab — attempting to literally define puddles as navigable waterways so they can regulate them — will have broad, negative impacts on a wide range of U.S. industries, most notably agriculture,” McCarthy said. 

EPA administrator Gina McCarthy has bristled at the suggestion that puddles or similarly trivial waters would be subject to regulations under the Clean Water Act. 

However, McCarthy, who became the second-ranking House Republican last month after the surprising primary defeat of former Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), has signaled plans to move aggressively against the administration’s regulatory agenda.

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