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Public Statements

Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act of 2011

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. VELÁZQUEZ. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Reducing the cost of regulation is a very important issue, but it's not going to turn the economy around. In order for this to happen, businesses need to see more customers coming through their doors--and not just during the holiday season we are now in. With this in mind, it is necessary to create an environment where regulations are not overburdening small businesses, as they do in fact bear the largest burden.

These entrepreneurs face an annual regulatory cost of $10,585 per employee, which is 36 percent higher than the regulatory cost facing large firms. And this brings us to the bill before us.

Too often on the House floor legislation is painted as either being totally perfect or completely awful. With this bill, neither of these characterizations is appropriate. In fact, on many fronts, H.R. 527 contains several very positive provisions and will make a real difference for small businesses.

Many of the provisions were previously advanced by Democrats in the Small Business Committee, and for this Chairman Graves and Chairman Smith and their staff should be commended. For instance, the bill makes agencies' regulatory flex analyses more detailed so that they cannot simply overlook their obligations to small businesses. It also gives real teeth to periodic regulatory look-backs, which require agencies to review outdated regulations that remain on the books. Agencies will also be required to evaluate the entire impact of their regulations, something that is long overdue.

And it cannot go without mention that the bill brings the IRS under the purview of the RFA. This is a real improvement for small firms, which will undoubtedly benefit from greater scrutiny of complex and burdensome tax rules. These are all constructive changes that will bring real relief to entrepreneurs.

With that said, there are other items in this legislation that leave you scratching your head. Adding 50 new agencies to the panel process is a recipe for disaster. Such a dramatic change will require new bureaucratic processes, more staff, and more paperwork.

It must be ironic for my colleagues on the other side of the aisle that this bill attempts to reduce Federal regulation by dramatically expanding the role and scope of government. In fact, H.R. 527 creates more government as a means to limit government. How does that make sense?

It also applies reg flex to land management plans, something I have never heard small businesses complain about in my 18 years on the committee. Doing so will enable corporate interests to more readily challenge land use decisions, which could have adverse consequences for the environmental stewardship of public lands. The reality is that the RFA was just not intended to cover this action, and it should not do so going forward.

Finally, it is important to note that the Office of Advocacy's footprint has traditionally been minimal, with a budget of $9 million and 46 employees. According to CBO, its budget will have to increase by up to 200 percent per year to handle the new responsibilities of H.R. 527. It is already taxed in meeting its current role, and expanding its powers geometrically is well beyond its capacity. Members are well aware of the fiscal constraints facing the U.S. Government. Now is not the time to make costly statutory leaps when smaller steps might be more appropriate.

So, in conclusion, there are some good and some not-so-good things in this bill. I want to acknowledge the effort by the bill's manager, but in the end it is not something I could support, given the imposition of too many questionable policies. However, I want to thank Chairman Graves for always being open to discussions, and I look forward to continuing our dialogue on this legislation.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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Ms. VELÁZQUEZ. I yield myself 1 minute.

I need to set the record straight regarding the previous Member who just spoke about how many regulations have been issued under the Obama administration.

Let me remind people here that, according to the conservative Heritage Foundation, net regulatory burdens increased in the years George W. Bush assumed the Presidency. Between 2001 and 2008 the Federal Government imposed almost $30 billion in new regulatory costs on America. About $11 billion was imposed in fiscal year 2007 alone.

With regard to the number of pages of regulations, the Code of Federal regulations totaled 145,000 pages in 2007 alone. The Obama administration issued an Executive order, 13563, and a memorandum on small businesses and job creation, and the Executive order instructs agencies to seek the views of affected entities prior to proposed rulemaking. The Executive order also calls on agencies to engage in periodic reviews of existing regulations.

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Ms. VELÁZQUEZ. I yield myself 15 seconds more.

If we're going to come here and, instead of dealing with the issues that are impacting small businesses--and that is access to affordable capital so that they could create jobs--but rather come and criticize the Obama administration for issuing regulations, let's set the record straight and talk about the regulations that were issued under the Republican administration.

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Ms. VELÁZQUEZ. Since its enactment in 1980, the Reg Flex has reduced the burden of Federal rules on small businesses. It has evolved over time to include new tools, expanding its purview and making a real difference for entrepreneurs across the country.

With this important role in mind, the legislation before us makes some essential changes. However, in other areas the bill goes too far. At a time of mounting deficits and growing taxpayer anger at how tone-deaf Congress has become, H.R. 527 will dramatically expand the Federal bureaucracy at a cost of $80 million.

For these reasons, I urge a ``no'' vote, and I yield back the balance of my time.

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