Senate Puts Brakes on Bill That Would Weaken Federal Safeguards and Protections

Nov. 19, 2012

Contact: Angela Bradbery, abradbery@citizen.org (202) 588-7741
Brian Gumm, bgumm@ombwatch.com (202) 683-4812

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Coalition for Sensible Safeguards is hailing lawmakers’ decision to halt a markup on The Independent Agency Regulatory Analysis Act (S. 3468), a controversial proposal that would overwhelm agencies with costly new red tape that would delay the implementation of vital safeguards and give future presidents unprecedented new powers over independent agencies. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC) has announced it will hold a hearing on the bill to gather more public input, rather than rushing the bill to markup without any public hearings.

The announcement is a great victory for standards and safeguards that protect the health and well-being of all Americans. “This terrible bill would make it more difficult for independent regulatory agencies like the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to respond quickly to emerging crises and protect Americans from harm,” said INSERT CSS SPOKESPERSON NAME.

In recent weeks, high-profile U.S. financial regulators, top consumer product safety regulators and a growing number of editorial boards have expressed their strong opposition to S. 3468. Regulators sent letters explaining their concerns to Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), chairman of the HSGAC and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), the ranking member on the committee.

S. 3468 was sharply criticized in an Oct. 26 letter signed by Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System; Thomas Curry, comptroller of the currency; Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; Mary L. Schapiro, chairman of the SEC; Martin Gruenberg, acting chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and Debbie Matz, chairman of the National Credit Union Administration. The six officials warned the bill “would constitute a fundamental change in the role of independent regulatory agencies.” They also said that S. 3468 would interfere ”with our ability to promulgate rules critical to our missions in a timely manner” and warned the new bill “would likely result in unnecessary and unwarranted litigation in connection with our rules.”

A Nov. 2 letter to the HSGAC from Heath Abshure, Arkansas securities commissioner and president of the North American Securities Administrators Association, attacked S. 3468 for leading to “profound, chilling affects on the ability of independent regulatory agencies to adopt rules that effectively protect the investing public.”

CPSC Chair Inez Tenenbaum and agency vice chairman Robert Adler also denounced S. 3468 in a Nov. 7 letter to the HSGAC. “This bill would empower OMB (the Office of Management and Budget) to require the agency (the Consumer Product Safety Commission) to repeat time-consuming analyses, which would delay the development of life-saving and injury reducing measures, such as recently passed infant and toddler product safety standards, that constitute the heart of the agency’s mission,” Tenenbaum and Adler wrote. “It would also undo reforms in the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA) that gave the Commission additional authority to respond quickly to new and emerging product safety hazards.”

S. 3468 could create major, unpredictable changes and lead to significant delays in the work of independent agencies. It would introduce major new bureaucratic roadblocks to any agency action, no matter how necessary or important, and would greatly delay implementation of important laws that must be implemented by independent agencies.

For more information about threats to sensible safeguards posed by S. 3468, including fact sheets, editorials by news outlets, and letters from organizations and federal officials opposing the bill, see http://sensiblesafeguards.org/factsheets/the-independent-agency-regulatory-analysis-act/.

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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.