Republicans introduce bill to rein in regulators

Republicans could more easily reject regulations from the Obama administration they don't like under new legislation introduced this week.

The highly controversial Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act would give Congress the final say over any major rule with an annual economic impact of $100 million or more.

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Federal agencies would be required to submit major rules to Congress for approval before they could take effect. This would all but guarantee Republicans the ability to block dozens of controversial rules from the Obama administration.

Sen. Rand PaulRand PaulCurtis wins GOP primary for House seat vacated by Jason Chaffetz Glimmer of hope in bipartisan criminal justice reform effort Trump barrage stuns McConnell and his allies MORE (R-Ky.) and Rep. Todd YoungTodd YoungNo. 2 Senate Republican backs McConnell in Trump fight Savings through success in foreign assistance Senate Dems propose crackdown on foreign lobbyists MORE (R-Ind.) reintroduced the REINS Act Wednesday in both chambers of Congress, but it is unlikely to get enough support from Democrats to pass.

"Today, we are introducing legislation to increase transparency in the federal regulatory process," Paul said in a statement. "If the Obama administration wants to impose regulations that effectively operate as laws on U.S. citizens, it is important that those citizens are made aware of how the laws come to be. Cutting red tape and opening the regulatory process to scrutiny is an important first step in holding government accountable."

The REINS Act has passed the House twice, in 2011 and 2013, the last time in a 232-180 vote. But it was not taken up by the Democratic-controlled Senate in the last Congress.

Experts say it remains unlikely to become law even in the Republican-controlled Congress.

Democrats fear the measure would give Congress a green light to block many much-needed public protections from ever seeing the light of day.

But Republicans complain that the Obama administration has overstepped its authority in the rule-making process. They say unelected bureaucrats at federal agencies should not have the ability to issue expensive regulations without their consent.

The REINS Act would level the playing field, they say, by allowing Congress to take an up-or-down vote on major rules from the agencies.

The GOP is also looking at other legislative options, such as the Congressional Review Act, to block the Obama administration's regulatory agenda.

The review act gives Congress the ability to vote to block regulations after they go into effect. 

The REINS Act would force the Obama administration to make the case to Congress before a regulation goes into effect.