House passes bill to require inflation estimates for executive orders

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.)
Greg Nash
Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) is seen following a closed-door House Republican Conference meeting on Tuesday, February 28, 2023 at the RNC Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Editor’s note: The estimate of inflationary effects of an executive order would be required before the order is enacted. An earlier version of this story mischaracterized a portion of the bill.

The House on Wednesday passed a bill that would require the Biden administration to provide estimates on how “major” executive orders signed by the president would impact inflation, a direct response to the rise in costs over the past year that Republicans have pinned on the White House.

The legislation, titled the Reduce Exacerbated Inflation Negatively Impacting the Nation (REIN IN) Act, passed in a 272-148 vote. Four Republicans — Reps. Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Bob Good (Va.), Matt Rosendale (Mont.) and Chip Roy (Texas) — voted against the measure, while 59 Democrats supported it.

House Republicans brought the measure to the floor roughly two weeks after the Labor Department announced consumer prices increased by 0.5 percent in January and 6.4 percent annually, a higher-than-expected rise. Annual inflation is, however, on the decline from its apex of 9.1 percent in June, which was the highest rate seen in 40 years.

Republicans for months have blamed the Biden administration and Democratic politics for the rise in prices. Since winning the majority in November, the House GOP leaders have made strengthening the economy a core tenet of their agenda.

Biden, however, has pointed to the pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as key factors behind the inflation increase.

House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), the sponsor of the bill, reiterated GOP points about what she called “Bidenflation” during debate on the floor Tuesday, contending that her legislation is a way to ensure “transparency” from the White House.

“By passing the REIN IN Inflation Act, House Republicans will demand transparency for the American people by revealing how much Biden’s executive orders are costing hardworking families and the painful impact it has on inflation,” Stefanik said. “This is about transparency for the American people.”

The legislation would mandate that the Director of the Office of Management and Budget and the Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers draw up reports on the inflationary impacts of “any major executive order,” which lawmakers defined as any measure that would be projected to have an annual gross budgetary effect of at least $1 billion. The estimate would be required before the order is enacted.

Emergency assistance or relief provided in response to requests from state or local governments, however, would not be subject to the review, in addition to measures that are “necessary for the national security or the ratification or implementation of international treaty obligations.”

Democrats criticized Republicans for proposing the bill, contending it won’t have any effect on inflation.

“Today on the floor we’re going to be considering something called the REIN IN Act. This is the grand Republican plan on the economy. It’s three pages. It calls for reports that many people believe to be duplicative and unnecessary. That’s their plan,” House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) said during his weekly press conference.

The legislation is unlikely to go anywhere in the Democratically-controlled Senate.

Lawmakers approved a number of amendments to the bill, including one, introduced by Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), that would also require inflation estimates for executive orders that have an annual gross budgetary effect of at least $1 million. Another approved amendment, introduced by Rep. Michael Cloud (R-Texas), would direct the administration to incorporate the inflationary impact of debt servicing costs.

Biden has signed 107 executive orders thus far in his White House tenure, according to The American Presidency Project. For comparison, former President Trump issued 220 executive orders in his single-term presidency, and former President Barack Obama signed 147 executive orders in his first term.

Tags Elise Stefanik Hakeem Jeffries Joe Biden

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