By Scott Faber, Environmental Working Group
One out of every five political donations made to Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc. – chair of a Senate committee expected to vote this week to effectively block new consumer protection rules – came from corporate political action committees, trade associations and individuals lobbying to gut basic protections for American consumers, an EWG analysis shows.
On Wednesday, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs will vote on the Senate version of H.R. 5, the Regulatory Accountability Act, which would require endless agency studies before new consumer protection rules could be adopted. EWG and other opponents of the bill, who call it a “License to Kill” bill, say that in practice, proposed rules would never be able to clear the roadblocks.
Using records from Open Secrets, EWG found trade associations, political action committees and individuals linked to companies that have lobbied for H.R. 5 and other bills designed to block basic health and safety rules contributed $337,000 to Johnson’s 2016 campaign – 15 percent of all political donations to the Wisconsin Republican last year.
EWG identified 22 companies with associated PACs or individuals who contributed to Johnson, which either lobbied for so-called regulatory reform bills or are members of trade associations lobbying for the Regulatory Accountability Act or similar bills. The trade associations include the Business Roundtable, the National Association of Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. PACs and individuals tied to big oil and gas companies, such as Koch Industries, and food companies, such as Yum Brands, are also among Johnson’s contributors who lobbied for these bills.
EWG previously reported that corporate interests contributed $3.3 million in 2016 to Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, the Senate sponsor of the Regulatory Accountability Act.
Under the House’s bill, the Food and Drug Administration, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and other federal agencies proposing new rules would have to first consider an endless array of regulatory options. The proposed rules would then have to pass two layers of review by judges newly charged to second-guess agency experts.
The Senate version is nearly as bad. It would require trial-like adversarial hearings for proposed rules and limit the science upon which agencies can base their decisions.