Radical REINS Act – Distraction From Other Anti-Regulatory Bills

March 5, 2013

Contact: Gisele McAuliffe, gmcauliffe@citizen.org (202) 285-3340
Brian Gumm, bgumm@foreffectivegov.org (202) 683-4812

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act of 2013 (H.R. 367) would gut enforcement of laws opposed by industry-backed special interests and is designed to distract public attention from a growing list of other harmful proposals to block the implementation of vital rules and standards that protect Americans’ health, safety and financial security, the Coalition for Sensible Safeguards said today.

Coalition members restated their strong opposition to the REINS Act following a hearing on the measure Tuesday before the House Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust.

“REINS is so blatantly extreme a proposal, it’s like the booming voice of the ‘Wizard of Oz’ that distracts us what’s from behind the curtain: a number of other very worrisome GOP proposals to gut the enforcement of laws that protect our food supply, financial security, water, air and worker safety,” said Gynnie Robnett, coordinator of the Coalition for Sensible Safeguards.

The REINS Act is part of a strategy by industry to make other bills that would eviscerate the regulatory system appear moderate, the coalition maintains. They include bills like the Independent Agency Regulatory Analysis Act and the Regulatory Accountability Act (RAA) which would greatly expand the kinds of rules that must undergo formal rulemaking procedures – a highly complex process that can easily take more than a decade to complete and delay standards and safeguards that save American lives.

The REINS Act would require congressional approval within 70 days of all major regulations issued by federal agencies before those safeguards could take effect. Rules not approved within that time frame would be tabled until the next Congress. Because of the low probability of Congress meeting that deadline, REINS would shut down the rulemaking process and block virtually all new safeguards.

Other bills would amend the regulatory process in different but still damaging ways.

“It’s time to pull back the curtain and shine a spotlight on the slew of anti-regulatory measures being pushed through Congress,” said Celia Wexler, senior Washington representative for the Union for Concerned Scientists. “These proposals would not improve or streamline the regulatory system. Rather, they would drastically undermine our system of public protections.”

“We urge members of Congress not to fall into the trap being set,” said Lisa Gilbert, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. “The strategy is to make these other anti-regulatory bills appear reasonable. They are anything but that.”

Health, safety, environmental, financial and other safeguards make America stronger and safer. The Clean Air Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, are just a few examples of landmark laws that have improved our quality of life. Congress should be searching for ways to ensure federal agencies enforce these and other laws designed to protect our food supply, water, air quality, financial security and much more, not throwing up roadblocks to sensible safeguards that protect the American people, the coalition maintains.

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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.