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Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act of 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. GOODLATTE. I yield myself 30 seconds.

Mr. Chairman, since 1996, the disapproval process described by the gentlewoman from Texas has succeeded just one time. During that time, tens of thousands of regulations have been passed; and if people think that all but one of them were just fine, I would suggest it's just the opposite. It's the process right now--the inability of the Congress to rein in regulations that are out of control--which is lacking, and that's why we need the REINS Act, so that regulations that cost more than $100 million come back to the Congress for approval.

It is now my pleasure to yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Farenthold), a distinguished member of the Judiciary Committee and the vice chairman of the Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law.

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

A year and a half ago, the President of the United States came to give his State of the Union address here in the House Chamber and stood at the podium just below where you're standing right now. He had a long list of legislative items he wanted the Congress to pass. At the conclusion of it he said, If you don't do it, I will. I'm paraphrasing, of course. The question that many of us had was: By what authority in the United States Constitution does the President of the United States have the ability to do something that he has come to the Congress to ask to be passed legislatively and to tell us, if we don't do it, he's going to do it himself in the executive branch?

Well, the way he does it, when he's not stopped by lawsuits and other means, is he simply has regulations passed to accomplish those objectives. You know what? Thousands of regulations are passed every Congress compared to a few hundred laws that are passed. All we're asking here today is that for those regulations that cost the American people $100 million or more, that they have to come back here and be approved by the Congress rather than have executive fiat control that.

This is the representative democracy here in the House of Representatives and in the United States Senate. This is the people's House. We have the authority to pass laws, and we definitely are concerned about the welfare and well-being of our American people. But when we add trillions of dollars in costs to the expenses of American families, $11,000 per family, that's a stunning thing to think about what money could have been spent on other things. Yes, of course, some of those regulations are necessary, but many of them are not. Many of them needlessly add cost and create an ever-growing bureaucracy in the executive branch. We need to have ways to rein that in.

The most effective way to do that is to start with the largest regulation. Many people would say, well, we should do it for all regulations. That ought to be our objective, to make it very clear that we do not want to see regulations passed that are ineffective, that are needless, that add costs. Starting with those that cost more than $100 million, it is absolutely appropriate for the elected representatives of the people to have the final say on whether those regulations are, indeed, what the Congress intended when they passed the underlying laws upon which those regulations are based. That's all we ask in this legislation. It is reasonable. The American people want it. This Congress should pass it.

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Mr. GOODLATTE. I thank the gentleman for yielding.

This is a good amendment to a good bill, and I support it.

By requiring all new major regulations to be submitted to Congress for approval, the REINS Act provides a powerful check on overreaching executive action. This check could not come sooner. The Obama administration increasingly, and increasingly openly, is pursuing unilateral regulatory action to thwart Congress' decision not to pass legislation the administration desires. This includes legislation that would impose a carbon tax as part of the administration's climate agenda.

The amendment guarantees that no carbon tax can be imposed unless Congress consents to it, no matter how much the Obama administration would like to impose such a dramatic tax by executive fiat. This is the people's House. This is where new public policy should be established, and this amendment is a good one to assure that this is where policy related to carbon taxes is made, not in the administration.

I urge my colleagues to support the amendment.

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Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Chairman, I want to thank the gentleman from Illinois for offering this amendment. It is another good amendment.

I also want to say to my good friend from Tennessee that I was a little older when Richard Nixon was in office. We are not minimizing what he did; we are going

to maximize the amount of attention that Congress pays to the EPA when they get it wrong, particularly when the Secretary of Agriculture determines that any regulation issued by the EPA will have a significant impact on a substantial number of agricultural entities. We ought to take a look at that. As a result, it subjects such regulations to congressional approval before they can become effective.

This is an important step to rein in what is often regarded as the most overreaching of all Federal regulatory agencies. The EPA's actions and proposals have been particularly problematic for America's farmers, including small farmers. This includes, for example, the EPA actions aimed at farm dust.

The Secretary of Agriculture has a greater incentive than EPA to ensure that potential adverse impacts on agricultural entities have been adequately and accurately assessed. The amendment guarantees that regulation that should be characterized as major due to their impacts on agricultural entities will be so characterized and submitted to Congress for approval.

I urge my colleagues to support this very worthy amendment.

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Mr. GOODLATTE. I thank the gentleman for yielding, and I commend him and support this important amendment.

The REINS Act restores to Congress the accountability for regulatory decisions that impose major burdens on our economy. This amendment strengthens congressional accountability for regulations under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. You know, ObamaCare? That legislation that has 400 new authorities, 400 new ways for the Secretary of Health and Human Services and other bureaucrats to regulate the American people, businesses, large and small, local governments, State governments, health care providers?

Yeah, that one. Imposed over the will of the American people, implementation of ObamaCare has demonstrated that the act imposes a detrimental and unworkable reform of the Nation's health care system. And one after another, promises made to the American people by the act's supporters when the law was passed have been broken.

Moreover, the Obama administration's own actions to waive or suspend ObamaCare requirements have made clear that regulatory actions to implement the act form a ``seamless web.''

Too often, actions to avoid one adverse effect of the act's implementation send ripple effects of unfairness or other harmful consequences throughout the ObamaCare web, requiring adjustments to other aspects of implementation.

This, too, justifies the amendment's requirement that Congress approve any new regulation promulgated under the act, and I urge my colleagues to support this excellent amendment.

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Mr. GOODLATTE. I want to thank the gentleman from Iowa for yielding, and I support his amendment.

Mr. Chairman, interrelated Federal regulations are a common feature of the modern regulatory landscape. Numerous major regulations form part of a web of regulations agencies develop to implement one statutory division or one statutory goal.

In addition, numerous regulatory statutes entrust rulemaking authority over a given problem to more than one agency. This is the case, for example, with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' joint authority over wetlands. It is also the case with the EPA's and the Department of Transportation's joint authority over fuel economy standards.

The amendment requires that agencies, when they submit new major regulations to Congress for approval, provide a list of related regulatory actions that the submitting agency or other agencies have taken or will take to implement the same statutory provision or regulatory objective. Seems pretty reasonable to me to have to find out what other regulations are impacting the same objective.

This helpful amendment will provide Congress with more complete information on the extent of regulations agencies have taken or plan to take to implement an authorizing statute or achieve a regulatory goal. That information will better enable Congress to determine whether to approve or disapprove the submitted regulation.

This can only improve congressional accountability and the regulatory process, and I urge my colleagues to support the amendment.

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Mr. GOODLATTE. I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Chairman, the amendment carves out of the REINS Act Congressional Approval Procedures all regulations that pertain to nuclear reactor safety standards. REINS Act supporters believe in nuclear safety. We want to guarantee that regulatory decisions that pertain to nuclear reactor safety are the best decisions that can be made. That is precisely why I oppose the amendment.

By its terms, the amendment shields from the REINS Act Congressional Approval Procedures not only major regulations that would raise nuclear reactor safety standards, but also regulations that would lower them. All major regulations pertaining to nuclear reactor safety standards, whether they raise or lower standards, should fall within the REINS Act. That way, agencies with authority over nuclear reactor safety will know that Congress must approve their major regulations before they go into effect. That provides a powerful incentive for the agencies to write the best possible regulations, ones that Congress can easily approve. It is a solution that everyone should support because it makes Congress more accountable and assures agencies will write better rules. All Americans will be safer for it.

I urge my colleagues to oppose the amendment, and I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. GOODLATTE. I yield myself the balance of my time.

Mr. Chairman, the fact of the matter is that, when it comes to regulatory safety, the gentleman cites the Congressional Review Act. I'll remind the House that, as I noted earlier, since 1996, it's been used one time for ergonomic furniture. That is not a very good track record when tens of thousands of regulations have been passed during that time that should be reviewed by this Congress. This legislation only asks that those regulations that cost more than $100 million should be reviewed. But it's especially true of the most important regulations related to, for example, the nuclear power industry where safety is a very important standard, as is efficiency and making sure that the American people have the electric power generation that they need. So the Congress has great incentive to reach quick agreement on regulations like that, and it's very important that we have that jurisdiction.

But many regulations are not needed; they cost jobs in our economy. I know those on the other side of the aisle have been citing academics who claim that that's not the case. But I want to call attention to one more academic who wrote just on January 18, 2011. He said:

Sometimes, those rules have gotten out of balance, placing unreasonable burdens on business--burdens that have stifled innovation and have had a chilling effect on growth and jobs.

That academic's name is Barack Obama, and he is currently the President of the United States.

I urge my colleagues to oppose the amendment, and I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Chairman, the amendment carves out of the REINS Act Congressional Approval Procedures regulations that the Office of Management and Budget determined will lead to net job creation.

The danger in the amendment is the strong incentive it gives OMB to manipulate its analysis of a major regulations job impact. Far too often, OMB may be tempted to shave the analysis to skirt the bill's congressional approval requirement. In addition, regulations alleged to create new jobs often do so by destroying real existing jobs and creating new hoped-for jobs associated with regulatory compliance.

For example, some Environmental Protection Agency Clean Air Act rules will shut down existing power plants. EPA and OMB may attempt to justify that with claims that more new green jobs will be created as a result. In the end, that is just another way in which government picks the jobs winners and the jobs losers. And there's no guarantee that all of the new green jobs will ever actually exist. And I would cite Solyndra as perhaps the best evidence of promised jobs that don't exist and cost the taxpayers half a billion dollars.

The REINS Act is not intended to force any particular outcome. It does not choose between clean air and dirty air. It does not choose between new jobs and old jobs. Instead, the REINS Act chooses between two ways of making laws. It chooses the way the Framers intended, in which accountability for laws with major economic impacts rests with Congress. It rejects the way Washington has operated for far too long, where there is no accountability because decisions are made by unelected agency officials.

The amendment would undermine that fundamental choice. Let me give you a few examples of this:

Regulatory agencies routinely estimate the benefits and costs of regulatory changes under the assumption that any individuals that become unemployed are instantly and constantly reemployed in nearly identical jobs. But the EPA's employment impact analysis is frequently flawed because it fails to account for the cascading employment effects of regulation across interconnected industries and markets.

Using the proper full economy model, NERA Economic Consulting found that the EPA's Utility MACT Rule would have a negative impact equivalent to 180,000 to 215,000 lost jobs in 2015, versus the EPA's claim of 8,000 net new jobs, and which, therefore, wouldn't come to the Congress, even though private consultants say it would lose over 200,000 jobs. EPA claims it would create 8,000 jobs.

The EPA's Cross-State Air Pollution Rule would have had an economic impact equivalent to the annual--annual--loss of 34,300 jobs from 2013 through 2037 versus the EPA's claimed 700 jobs gained annually.

Finally, the EPA's industrial Boiler Maximum Achievable Control Technology--or MACT--Rule would have a negative impact equivalent to 27,585 jobs per year on average from 2013 through 2037, compared with the EPA's claim of 2,200 per year claim.

All of this goes to show that this would be a shell game allowing the executive branch to claim job increases when actually there are massive job losses and, therefore, avoid the scrutiny of the people's House and the entire United States Congress where these massive regulations should come back for review and approval before they're implemented, and before they cost those kind of jobs to Americans.

I urge my colleagues to oppose the amendment, and yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Chairman, I would say to the gentlewoman from Texas that the bill prohibits a filibuster in the Senate from being used to block consideration of regulations that come before the Congress.

We are making every effort to have that bipartisan collegiality that she suggests, but I don't think this amendment accomplishes that. The amendment seeks to shield the Department of Homeland Security from Congress' authority to approve regulations under the REINS Act. That shield should be denied.

For example, take the Department's rule to extend compliance deadlines for States to issue secure driver's licenses under the REAL ID Act. More than a decade after 9/11 hijackers used fraudulent licenses to board airplanes used to murder 3,000 innocent Americans, DHS continues to keep this extension in place.

This is the kind of decisionmaking that takes place at the Department of Homeland Security. Congress should use every tool it can to reassert its authority over the legislative rulemaking functions it has delegated to DHS, and the REINS Act is available to do that.

I would urge my colleagues to oppose the amendment and to support the underlying bill.

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

I just want to point out to the House that the assertion that this does not prevent a filibuster in the Senate is incorrect. If Members would examine pages 12 through 14 of the bill, they will see multiple ways in which procedural motions and substantive motions in the Senate are barred from undertaking a filibuster, and they must proceed through those points of order and other objections that might be raised to a final vote on this regulation under the REINS Act.

This is a good thing because it will allow for expeditious consideration by the Congress of regulations. Whether they are needed or not needed, they ought to be considered by the Congress, especially if they cost more than $100 million to the American economy.

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Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself the balance of my time, and would just say in opposition to this amendment again, Members only need to look to the bill itself to see that the process in the Senate will not tolerate filibusters at any point in the process from start to finish.

Let me also point out that the American people care very much about how disasters are handled, and so do elected representatives of the American people. But we are talking about regulations written by the agency that cost more than $100 million.

Those regulations, if they are written wrong--and many people would suggest that the Department of Homeland Security has gotten it wrong many times with regulations from the TSA, for example--those regulations should come back to this Congress for review. The American people have the first and foremost place to look for leadership on these issues in the Congress of the United States, the people's House, and the United States Senate, and not to government regulatory agencies.

Yes, they need to write regulations, but they shouldn't have the final say, particularly on the most expensive regulations affecting our economy.

Money that is diverted--money that is diverted--to pay for unnecessary regulations is money that can't be spent to address other problems that we have in this country or to pay down our national debt. That's what is important, and that's why this amendment should be defeated.

We need to have common sense brought to our regulatory process. The REINS Act does it. The REINS Act reins in unnecessary burdensome regulations, it helps protect American jobs, and it ought to be protected, and that includes protected from unnecessary or burdensome regulations in the Department of Homeland Security.

I urge my colleagues to oppose the amendment, and I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. GOODLATTE. I want to thank the gentleman for yielding.

Mr. Chairman, I support the amendment. I share in my colleague's desire to bring more congressional scrutiny to regulations with high economic impacts, and I know that recent major regulations have hit West Virginia and the gentleman's constituents particularly hard.

The Environmental Protection Agency's regulations that affect energy sources and power production are among the most troubling. The $100 million threshold for major regulations in the bill is consistent with definitions that have been used by Presidential administrations of both parties since at least the 1990s. However, regulations with a $50 million impact in today's economy will hit America's job creators and families too hard. This is particularly true of small businesses and the families that depend on them on Main Streets throughout the Nation. As a result, the amendment would make sure that Congress is accountable for regulatory decisions of this magnitude, which impose harm on an economy that can ill afford it.

Therefore, I support the gentleman's amendment, and I urge my colleagues to join me in doing so.

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Mr. GOODLATTE. I thank the gentleman from Florida for yielding, and I'm going to support his amendment.

I share my colleagues's desire to curb the abuse of agency guidance documents and other agency directives, statements, and actions that too often have escaped adequate congressional scrutiny.

The amendment brings within the scope of the Congressional Review Act and the REINS Act rules of agency practice, procedure, and management that could be abused but otherwise would escape a congressional check and balance. It is a measured first step in reining in agency excess, and I look forward to working with the gentleman in the future to see if we can identify additional ways to rein in abusive agency practices and guidance.

I urge my colleagues to support this amendment.

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Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Chairman, the statistics about the delays in poor performance at the Department of Veterans Affairs with regard to veterans' claims are reasons to oppose the gentlewoman's amendment. The amendment carves out of the REINS act congressional approval procedures all regulations that affect veterans and Veterans Affairs.

We want to guarantee that the regulatory decisions that affect them are the best decisions. That's why major regulations that affect veterans and Veterans Affairs, like all other major regulations, should fall within the REINS Act. Under the legislation, agencies with authority over veterans' issues will know that Congress must approve their major regulations before they go into effect.

That provides a powerful incentive for the agencies to write the best possible regulations, ones that Congress can easily approve. Congress will have every incentive to approve good regulations and every incentive to disapprove regulations that have led to the kind of delays and uncertainty that veterans face today.

That's a solution that everyone should be able to support. Congress will be more accountable, agencies will write better rules, and veterans and all Americans will reap the benefit.

I urge my colleagues to oppose this amendment, and I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself the balance of my time.

I say to the gentlewoman, my colleague from Wisconsin, that this House is very proud of the fact that we worked in a bipartisan fashion to pass all of those bills. I have absolutely no doubt that if, after we pass those bills, the Department of Veterans Affairs and other agencies affecting veterans didn't do the work properly and didn't get it done right that this Congress would again work in a very bipartisan fashion to say, No, you didn't get it right. Get it right.

That's what this is all about. That's why the REINS Act is important. It's not just for every other American, but also for veterans. This is something that will improve the regulatory process.

There is another study that talks about the creation of jobs, which are important to our veterans who have returned and are looking for employment in this country. This is a study by the Phoenix Center, and it's entitled, ``Regulatory Expenditures, Economic Growth and Jobs: An Empirical Study.'' It was performed by three Ph.D.'s and a lawyer. What could be better than that? I want to read from part of the abstract. It says:

Even a small 5 percent reduction in the regulatory budget, about $2.8 billion, is estimated to result in about $75 billion in expanded private sector GDP each year with an increase in employment by 1.2 million jobs annually. On average, eliminating the job of a single regulator grows the American economy by $6.2 million and nearly 100 private sector jobs annually. Conversely, each million-dollar increase in the regulatory budget costs the economy 420 private sector jobs.

This is a study that shows conclusively that we're right when we say that the REINS Act will help to create jobs in this country and the current regulatory morass that we're facing in this country is costing American jobs. I urge my colleagues to oppose the amendment and to support the underlying bill.

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