House passes bill to curb costly rules

House passes bill to curb costly rules
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Legislation giving Congress the final say over costly rules coming from federal agencies passed the House late Thursday. 

The Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act passed along party lines by a vote of 237-187 on the third day of the new Congress. It requires the House and the Senate to pass a resolution of approval, which the President must sign, within 70 legislative days before any major regulations — those with an estimated annual economic impact of $100 million or more — can take effect.

The House also passed an amendment offered by Rep. Luke Messer (R-Ind.) Wednesday night to force agencies to offset the costs of new rules by repealing or amending an existing rule.

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The legislation allows the Speaker of the House to call for an immediate vote on a joint resolution of approval that’s been on the calendar for at least five days, but only on the second and fourth Thursday of each month.

Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) was among the Democrats who lambasted the bill as anti-regulatory.

“This thing is like throwing a monkey wrench into a well-oiled machine,” he said.

If it takes both chambers of Congress and the President to approve a rule, Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) noted that it would only take one chamber to veto a rule.

“We can pass laws in bicameral spirit when the House and Senate agree, but neither is given any power to veto laws or legislation,” he said. “This would break that and I believe be unconstitutional.”

The legislation does provide an exemption for any rule the president deems necessary to protect public health or safety, national security, international trade or to enforce criminal laws. Those rules, however, would only be allowed to be in effect for a 90-day period.

Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.) said Republicans have made regulatory reform a priority in the new Congress. The REINS Act, he said, is an important starting point.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteUSCIS chief Cuccinelli blames Paul Ryan for immigration inaction Immigrant advocacy groups shouldn't be opposing Trump's raids Top Republican releases full transcript of Bruce Ohr interview MORE (R-Va.) argued that regulatory reform is critical in achieving a full economic recovery.

“America’s small business owners are suffocating under mountains of endlessly growing, bureaucratic red tape,” he said. “And the uncertainty about the cost of upcoming regulations discourages employers from hiring new employees and expanding their businesses.”

Several amendments offered by Democrats were rejected, including rules that make baby toys safer; reduce the levels of lead in public drinking water; protect public health and safety; and reduce the rate of cancer, premature death, asthma attacks and respiratory diseases in children.

This is the second bill this week to take aim at the executive branch. On Wednesday, lawmakers approved legislation to amend the Congressional Review Act and allow Congress to repeal in a single vote any rule finalized in the last 60 legislative days of an outgoing administration.

This is the fourth consecutive session of Congress in which the House has passed the REINS Act.