House Judiciary Committee’s Approval of REINS Act is Deplorable; Bill Would Destroy a Century of Progress on Public Protections

A Statement from the Coalition for Sensible Safeguards

October 25, 2011

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

Today, the House Judiciary Committee, along party lines, approved H.R. 10, the “Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act of 2011,” setting the bill up for a vote on the floor of the House. The Coalition for Sensible Safeguards condemns this bill and strongly urges Congress to reject it.

The REINS Act, the signature bill of anti-government attacks on public protections, aims to destroy a century’s worth of progress in environmental, health, workplace, consumer and financial protections. It would delay or stop the implementation of critical public health and safety protections.

Despite its name, the REINS Act does not just defend the status quo; the bill is a back-door way of gutting the enforcement of existing laws that some representatives do not support. It would allow this Congress to stop the implementation of environmental, health, and safety provisions without actually having to vote to repeal laws that have overwhelming public support – like the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act.

Most agencies’ rulemaking activities only can occur after legislation is enacted by Congress, so the argument that Congress does not have input is absurd on its face. Given existing legislative gridlock and political polarization, the REINS Act requirement that Congress approve major rules – with no alterations – within a 70-day window is just a round-about way of stopping the executive branch from enforcing the laws of the land.

Instead of throwing up roadblocks to enforcement of the standards and safeguards that protect the American people, Congress should be searching for ways to assist federal agencies in carrying out their enforcement responsibilities to protect our food supply, water, air quality, and financial security. Until they do, we will see more Listeria and E. coli outbreaks and toxic toys on store shelves.

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The Coalition for Sensible Safeguards is an alliance of consumer, 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.