By Representative Frank Lucas
It's no secret that Americans are frustrated with the government right now. They are facing unemployment levels of 9 percent -- meaning that nearly one in 10 people are out of a job. They are looking to their representatives in Washington to take action to jump-start the economy and boost employment.
Although Republicans and Democrats disagree over how best to do that, there is one measure that has enjoyed broad bipartisan support. It is a common-sense initiative that would ensure that business owners are not subject to two separate federal regulations where one would suffice. It frees up capital to be spent on job-creating investments, instead of fighting red tape.
I'm referring to the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act (H.R. 872). This legislation became necessary because of a misguided court order released in 2009. A federal appeals court determined that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency must issue permits for pesticide use near waterways.
This decision was made despite the fact that pesticide use is already heavily regulated under a federal statute that governs the sale, use, registration and labeling of pesticides throughout the United States.
Because pesticides are already subject to comprehensive regulations, the court order requiring EPA permitting does not create any new environmental or safety benefits.
What it does create are substantial new costs for farmers, ranchers and other business owners. That slows down economic activity and hurts job growth, at a time when we can ill afford to do so.
A wide range of organizations will be affected by these requirements: agricultural producers, foresters, mosquito control districts, public health agencies, the federal government, state agencies and regular citizens.
Instead of investing in new jobs, these companies will be forced to invest time and money to comply with a duplicative regulation.
The House of Representatives responded to this problem with the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act. This bill would eliminate the second, redundant permitting process.
How important is this legislation? In a time of staunch partisanship, it passed the House of Representatives with strong support from both Republicans and Democrats.
The same language was also included in H.R. 2584, the Interior Appropriations bill. The Senate Agriculture Committee took up the fight next, passing the legislation out of committee in June.
Despite the strong bipartisan support for this common-sense initiative, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has refused to bring the measure to the full Senate for a vote.
That's unacceptable. With the Senate in recess, there remains no time to pass a legislative fix before the Oct. 31 deadline takes effect. Because of delays and inaction from extremist Democrats in the Senate, business owners, farmers and ranchers across the country will soon be tied up in yet another layer of red tape, hindering their ability to do business.
I have repeatedly called on Sen. Reid to bring this legislation to the floor so that we can prevent another unnecessary burden on America's businesses.
Furthermore, Dan Pfeiffer, White House communications director, echoed these sentiments just this week when he said "the only way we can truly attack our economic challenges is with bold, bipartisan action in Congress."
I agree and so do my House colleagues from both sides of the aisle. The cost of the Senate's inaction on H.R. 872 is significant and time is running out.
Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., is chairman of the House Agriculture Committee.