By Michell McIntrye, Public Citizen
When Congress returned from its longest summer recess in 60 years, and before they ran back to districts to campaign, conservatives in the U.S. House of Representatives were determined to assail our system of public protections. Remember that arcade game staple, whack-a-mole, where players try to hammer down the target as others pop up, more and more quickly? Essentially playing whack-a-mole in the four weeks of September, Public Citizen and our partners in the Coalition for Sensible Safeguards defended against multiple pieces of legislation aimed at limiting the power of the government to protect the public.
Conservatives attempted to pass four misleading and damaging anti-regulatory bills and were successful in pushing through three of them – the fourth was shelved until Congress’ post-election return.
- Stop Settlement Slush Funds Act (H.R. 5063) – passed on Sept. 7, 2016
- Regulatory Integrity Act (H.R. 5226) – passed on Sept. 14, 2016
- REVIEW Act (H.R. 3438) – passed on Sept. 21, 2016
- Midnight Rules Relief Act (H.R. 5982) – shelved for the lame duck on Sept. 26, 2016
Regulations protect and safeguard our lives in everything from the food we eat to the water we drink and from the air we breathe to the products we use. These government standards ensure that we can go about our daily lives without much fear of dying at work, eating poisonous food or having our cars go up in flames. The process for producing these vital standards is already glacially slow and exceedingly cumbersome, and if signed into law, these damaging bills would exacerbate the problems in the rulemaking system.
The slow process of our current rulemaking system already has a negative impact on communities of color and low income communities, who it has been shown face the biggest health, safety and economic threats and inequities in public protections. Further delays to public safeguards would do nothing but increase this disproportionate impact, heightening the injustices and inequities in our society.
These bills that conservatives rushed through would prolong and further delay lifesaving rules from reaching full enforcement and having maximum impact. They aren’t about protecting the public good; they’re about helping industry line their own pockets at the expense of the American people. The bills were cleverly designed to use back door approaches to gut key safeguards. And, since the bill titles were designed to be bland and meaningless, here they are re-named to call them out for what they really are.