Friday, August 26, 2011

Speaker Asks President for List of Regulations as House Prepares to Take Up Legislation Requiring Congressional Approval of Major Regulations

In a letter to President Obama, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) asked the Administration to provide a list of all pending and planned federal regulations with a projected impact on the US economy in excess of $1 billion. The Speaker asked that the list be provided by the time Congress reconvenes in September so that the information will be available as the House considers legislation requiring congressional approval of any proposed federal regulation that will have a significant impact on the economy.

The Speaker is referring to the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act (REINS), HR 10, which would require Congress to take an up-or-down, stand-alone vote on all new major regulations before they can be enforced. Major regulations are defined as those that have resulted in or is likely to result in an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more; a major increase in costs or prices, or significant adverse effects on competition, employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or U.S. competitiveness.

The Act provides that if a joint resolution of approval of a major rule is not enacted by the end of 70 session days or legislative days after the agency proposing the rule submits its report on such rule to Congress, the rule must be deemed not approved and must not take effect. However, HR 10 allows a major rule to take effect for 90 calendar days without such approval if the President determines that the rule is necessary because of an imminent threat to health or safety or other emergency, for the enforcement of criminal laws, for national security, or to implement an international trade agreement.

Responding to concerns that the legislation would set up the filibustering of federal agency regulations, New York Law School Professor David Schoenbrod testified before the Judiciary Committee that REINS limits debate on the vote approving the regulation and all related motions to two hours in the House and Senate and that there is no realistic way around this time limit.
The Judiciary Committee has jurisdiction over H.R. 10. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith has signed on as the bill’s lead co-sponsor.

HR 10 has the bipartisan support of 149 co-sponsors. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) has introduced a companion bill in the Senate as S. 299, which currently has the bipartisan support of 27 co-sponsors.