House to Vote on Terrible Trifecta of Deregulatory Bills That Would Destroy Vital Safeguards

All Three Bills Would Prevent Agencies from Protecting the Public

November 30, 2011

Contact: Rich Robinson, Public Citizen, (202) 588-7773 or rrobinson@citizen.org
Brian Gumm, OMB Watch, (202) 683-4812 or bgumm@ombwatch.org

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As early as Thursday, the House of Representatives is expected to vote on the “Regulatory Accountability Act (RAA) of 2011” (H.R. 3010) and the “Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act” (H.R. 527). The “Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act of 2011” (H.R. 10) is expected to come to the House floor for a vote early next week. All three of these bills attempt to grind the rulemaking process to a halt, thereby placing corporate interests ahead of public health, safety, environmental protection and a secure economy.

The RAA is an insidious and harmful attack on public protections. It would impose extensive and onerous new burdens on regulatory agencies seeking to issue new rules and empower Big Business with new opportunities to challenge proposed health, safety, environmental, financial and other regulations. It also would override bipartisan laws that have been on the books for years, including the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts and the Occupational Safety and Health Act, by requiring that all agencies – regardless of their legally-mandated missions – adopt the least costly rule, regardless of the impact on public health and safety, the stability our financial system or the quality of our environment.

The Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act would require regulatory agencies to undertake additional and wasteful analyses before issuing new rules, undermining their ability to protect the public and respond to emerging hazards. While the bill purports to be aimed at reducing regulatory burdens for small businesses, it would apply to 99.7 percent of all businesses, including some businesses with as many as 1,500 employees.

The REINS Act would require any rule with a significant impact on the economy to be approved with no amendments by both the House and Senate. Given the slow and uncertain pace of legislative decisions, the practical impact would be that virtually no new rules would be issued.

“While these bills look different, their goal is the same: To place roadblocks in the way of federal agencies as they work to ensure that we continue to have access to clean air and water, untainted food and safe drugs,” said Francesca Grifo, senior scientist and director of the Scientific Integrity Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “These bills would ensure that big corporations would have the ability to challenge well-founded science at every turn. Judges may end up deciding the validity of the scientific findings that underlie these public protections, a state of affairs that benefits no one except special interests who wish to use every avenue to evade their obligations.”

OMB Watch President Katherine McFate added, “This terrible trifecta of legislation would make it virtually impossible for federal agencies to ensure that American families are protected from tainted food, unsafe drugs, predatory financial schemes, dirty air and water, and dangerous workplaces.”

Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen added, “House Republicans aim to gift Big Business with a world in which companies are free from new health, safety, environmental, financial and other regulatory controls. This is a bellwether vote: Either you care about your constituents, in which case you vote against each component of the trifecta, or you care about satisfying fat cat corporate contributors, in which case you make a different choice.”

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The Coalition for Sensible Safeguards is an alliance of consumer, small business, labor, scientific, research, good government, faith, community, health, environmental, and public interest groups, as well as concerned individuals, joined in the belief that our country’s system of regulatory safeguards provides a stable framework that secures our quality of life and paves the way for a sound economy that benefits us all. For more information about the coalition, go to www.sensiblesafeguards.org.