Congress could more easily block controversial federal rules under regulatory reform legislation that cleared a key hurdle Tuesday.
The House voted 243-165 to pass the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act in a bid to roll back the executive branch’s rulemaking authority. The legislation now goes to the Senate.
President Obama has already threatened to veto the legislation if it makes it to his desk.
"There are so many rules out there I bet the average person can’t go a couple hours without violating a rule or regulation they don’t even know about,” Rep. Blake FarentholdRandolph (Blake) Blake FarentholdThe biggest political upsets of the decade Members spar over sexual harassment training deadline Female Dems see double standard in Klobuchar accusations MORE (R-Texas) said during debate on the House floor.
Under the REINS Act, federal agencies would be required to submit major rules with an annual economic impact of $100 million or more to Congress for approval. This would essentially give Republicans the final say and upper hand in a vicious battle with the Obama administration over regulations.
Support for the regulatory reform bill is sharply divided along party lines.
“Our rulemaking process is out of control,” said Rep. Todd YoungTodd Christopher YoungHow to fix the semiconductor chip shortage (it's more than manufacturing) Senate Democrats try to defuse GOP budget drama The 19 GOP senators who voted for the T infrastructure bill MORE (R-Ind.), who introduced the bill. “It needs to be reined in.”
The bill is part of the GOP’s response to longstanding complaints about heavy-handed regulations form the Obama administration, but Democrats fear the legislation would pave the way for Republicans to block much-need public health and environmental protections.
Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) said the REINS Act is a “gift to the economic elites" that would "stop all future regulations.”
Democrats are concerned Republicans will drag their feet on approving these regulations, or try to block them altogether.
Rep. Mark PocanMark William PocanBiden seeks to build Democratic support among unions Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by the American Petroleum Institute — A warning shot on Biden's .5T plan Overnight Defense & National Security — America's longest war ends MORE (D-Wisc.) accused Republicans in Congress of moving like a “tortoise.”
“Let’s face it: Congress doesn’t have a great reputation for acting fast,” Pocan said.
Republicans, on the other hand, see it as an opportunity to bring accountability to the regulatory system.
“Some may falsely claim that this bill is about deregulation. It’s not,” said Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio). “It’s about accountability.”
“This provides a powerful incentive for the agencies to write the best possible rules,” added Rep. Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteThe job of shielding journalists is not finished Bottom line No documents? Hoping for legalization? Be wary of Joe Biden MORE (R-Va.).
This will be the third time in four years that the House has passed the REINS Act. What’s different this time around is that the regulatory reform bill could also see action in the Senate, which is now controlled by Republicans.
Sen. John CornynJohn CornynSenate parliamentarian nixes Democrats' immigration plan Democrats make case to Senate parliamentarian for 8 million green cards Democrats to make pitch Friday for pathway to citizenship in spending bill MORE (R-Texas) expressed support for the REINS Act, and said the upper chamber will likely take up the legislation after it returns from August recess.
The Senate’s measure was introduced by Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulWhite House debates vaccines for air travel Senate lawmakers let frustration show with Blinken Rand Paul: 'Hatred for Trump' blocking research into ivermectin as COVID-19 treatment MORE (R-Ky.) and has garnered support from 36 Republican co-sponsors, but is unlikely to attract many Democrat sponsors or get the 60 votes needed for passage.