Congress Kicks Off New Year With Same Old Deregulatory Agenda

Proposals Would Block and Repeal Safeguards, Endangering Public Health and Safety

January 5, 2016

Contact: David Rosen, drosen@citizen.org, (202) 588-7742
Michell McIntyre, mmcintyre@foreffectivegov.org, (202) 683-4834

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. House of Representatives is starting 2016 by voting this week on a series of industry-backed deregulatory proposals designed to sabotage the rulemaking process and delay public protections. The Coalition for Sensible Safeguards is calling on members of Congress to vote no on the proposals and stop pandering to corporate interests.

The SCRUB Act (H.R. 1155), to be considered by the House on Wednesday, would create a new federal commission tasked with dismantling long-established and essential regulations, including public health and safety, consumer, worker and environmental protections. The commission would be allowed to consider only the costs of regulation to affected industries while ignoring their benefits to the public. In addition, the bill would create a regulatory budget or “cut-go” system requiring any agency issuing a new protection to remove an existing one of equal or greater cost.

“Taking a step forward in public health and safety shouldn’t require that we first take a step backward,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen and chair of the Coalition for Sensible Safeguards. “The absurd premise behind this bill is that costs to industry are the only ones worth considering. In fact, the human costs of weak health and safety standards and tepid enforcement of those rules are much more alarming. The Wall Street financial collapse, irreversible damage from climate change, tainted food, unsafe and toxic children’s toys and consumer products, exploding oil trains and dangerous workplaces that kill and injure dozens of workers a day are just a few examples of those costs.”

The Sunshine for Regulatory Decrees and Settlements Act (H.R. 712), to be considered by the House on Thursday, is a package of anti-regulatory bills that would create a gauntlet of duplicative, burdensome and time-consuming hurdles when courts have to enforce a regulatory deadline. These hurdles would empower opponents of regulation to perpetuate unlawful agency inaction.

“The authors of this proposal are clearly trying to make it easier for federal agencies, like the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, to breeze past rulemaking deadlines set by Congress and ignore laws that protect our health, air, land and water,” said Scott Slesinger, legislative director for the Natural Resources Defense Council. “But proponents appear to have forgotten that many of the lawsuits aimed at enforcing regulatory deadlines are filed by corporations when statutes they support are being implemented too slowly. This bill would make government more inefficient for everyone. Both Republicans and Democrats should oppose it.”

The bill also would halt the federal rulemaking process by imposing a six-month moratorium on new rules. This arbitrary delay would do nothing more than obstruct rulemaking needed to save lives, protect public health and hold industry accountable.

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The Coalition for Sensible Safeguards is a national alliance of more than 150 consumer, labor, scientific, research, faith, community, environmental, small business, good government, public health and public interest groups — representing millions of Americans. We are joined in the belief that our country’s system of regulatory safeguards should secure our quality of life, pave the way for a sound economy and benefit us all. To learn more, go to SensibleSafeguards.org.