Ms. HIRONO. Mr. Chair, I rise today to express strong opposition to legislation this chamber passed yesterday, H.R. 10, the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act of 2011.
The REINS Act requires that both chambers of Congress pass a resolution approving every regulation with an economic impact of $100 million or more. If Congress fails to pass such a resolution, that regulation would not take effect, and the law would go unimplemented.
I oppose this legislation, which would hurt the health, safety, and well-being of my constituents and Hawaii's communities. We cannot let our constituents and communities down when it comes to these vital responsibilities.
For example, this bill would stop the rules that are being written now to implement the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act--which will rein in reckless behavior in financial markets. Important rules to implement the health care law--which is already lowering drug costs for seniors--would also be stopped. And rules relating to the recent food safety legislation and protecting clean air and water would be stopped.
These rules--and the laws they are implementing--were and are opposed by various powerful corporate special interests. Those special interests know they don't have the votes to repeal these laws--and they know the American people don't want them repealed.
So instead, corporate special interests and their allies claim that the costs of these types of rules are too big to be worth it.
Even the Bush Administration recognized that the benefits of rules like these outweigh their costs. In fact, in 2008, the Office of Management and Budget--which must sign off on all major rules developed by federal agencies--estimated that costs to the economy for major rules it approved were between $46 billion and $54 billion. These costs were far outweighed by the benefits of those same regulations, which they estimated to be between $122 billion and $656 billion. Imagine if the rules that are being written to implement Wall Street Reform had been on the books in 2005, before the financial crisis came to a head?
I believe our country could have reined in rampant, out of control behavior of Wall Street, and such regulations could have saved our economy trillions of dollars in lost economic growth and hard-earned retirement and college savings. Millions of people who have lost jobs could still be working. And this body could be focused on matters like improving U.S. education, economic competitiveness, and reducing our deficit.
Not only would this bill halt our regulatory system in its tracks, but it is also unnecessary. The Congressional Review Act already gives Congress the ability to review and disapprove of regulations if they are contrary to Congressional intent. This system ensures that the laws enacted by Congress are implemented appropriately, while preventing the law and its implementation from being hijacked by special interests on a whim--and creating disruptive uncertainty for our economy and legal system.
Mr. Speaker, people in Hawaii are tired of these politically motivated bills. They want the federal government to get to work helping to create jobs, protecting health and safety, and to do so responsibly.
The REINS Act also fails miserably on that front. This legislation would require federal agencies to conduct the rigorous analysis required to develop a rule--a process that can take several years--only to have that rule stopped by Congress. This is a waste of federal resources and irresponsible at a time when Congress needs to focus on creating jobs and reducing our deficit.
These are just some of the concerns I have with the REINS Act, and some of the reasons that I voted against this unnecessary and ill conceived legislation.