Search Form
First, enter a politician or zip code
Now, choose a category

Public Statements

The Rule of Law: Federal Regulations

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. CARTER. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

We've been talking for a couple of years now about the rule of law and how the rules that we set up for ourselves are rules that glue our society together. But there are times when there are rules that people have a misconception about. This happens more and more when you're back home, somebody will come to you in the business community or even in their personal life and complain about something or some way that the government was interfering with their lives.

There are times when, at least in my office, where people come in griping about it and unfortunately it's not the Federal Government. It's rarely not the Federal Government, but sometimes it's not the Federal Government but it's the State government. But almost always people presume that the law that is intrusive upon their life, and these are people that are not in the regular course of dealing with Washington, those laws were passed by Congress. So, therefore, Congress did this to you. And, in a way, it's true.

Tonight, I want to talk about Federal regulatory authority. Federal regulations. We're at a time right now that some would argue is at least equal to the Great Depression in a time of joblessness and in a time of economic stagnation. Some would argue we're second to the Great Depression. Whichever it is, we have literally hundreds of thousands and millions of people in this country who need a job. They need to work. They want to work. They want to be out there and be productive members of society. That's the most important thing in their life.

Feeding your family. People go to great strains to try to make sure that they can provide for their families. And I think all Americans feel that way. Nothing hurts more than to realize that whether it's your fault or the fault of the economy or what, you can't find a job in the town you live in, or maybe even anyplace within driving distance of where you live. You hesitate to move all the way across the country to someplace where you hear there are jobs because it's so disruptive to your family. The pressure is tremendously bad on people in this country right now. There are folks that are trying to create jobs, and they have things that are interfering with their lives.

There's all kinds of reasons why you get stagnation and you get companies that are fearful to create jobs, that people are, as we hear, quote, hoarding their profits. One of the reasons we talk about all the time is uncertainty--``I don't know what's going to happen and until I know what's going to happen, I'm holding onto my money.'' That might be actually some pretty good planning in many ways. But there's also that ``I can't explain it'' factor that is in people's lives. ``I can't explain it; I just don't feel good about things right now.'' I believe that a lot of the ``I can't explain it, I just don't feel good about things right now'' feeling that a lot of Americans have, actually you could go back to what FDR said: ``The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.'' We can't define what causes us to be afraid in many instances. But there are things that go on that we create in this Congress. Through acts of Congress, we create authorities, agencies, boards, commissions, departments, all kinds of entities that have career Federal bureaucrats that work for them, and we give them what's called regulatory authority. Regulatory authority basically gives them authority to write additional rules to implement the overall plan of what the Congress

perceived to be a need of the country and passed in the form of a piece of legislation. From that standpoint, I guess all rules are the resulting fault of the Congress. But in the vast majority of instances, the regulations are never addressed by the Congress.

Tonight, some of my friends are joining me and I'm really proud to have them here. We're going to talk about the fact that this is not the first time this has been recognized as an interference in the ability to create growth and create jobs in this country. Back in the nineties, back in, I believe it was right after the 1994 Republican takeover of the House, the Contract with America, there were a lot of pieces of legislation passed. Some of the things they tried to do were things that would get some of the regulators off the backs of small and large businesses which would prevent the creation of wealth, prevent the creation of jobs. They passed something called the Congressional Review Act. It was signed into law by President Clinton. The Congressional Review Act requires all Federal agencies to submit any new major regulation--that's what I was telling you about; agencies have regulatory authority and those regulations are like laws written by bureaucrats--to Congress for 60 days prior to the enactment of that regulation, during which time Congress can vote to block the new rules.

With President Obama in the White House and REID still throttling the Senate, the CRA, the Congressional Review Act, gives the House the potential to look at these things and to realize that probably the largest concentration of regulatory rules that will ever be written in the history of this country are probably going to be written, or are in the process of being written on ObamaCare right now.

You hear all these many things that are going on, if you just watch your television, about the Secretary has come up with a new rule and has granted a new waiver to rules, a temporary waiver, a permanent waiver, a 60-day rule; a rule forever. Rules are actually epidemic. Last year, the Federal Government issued a total of 3,316 new rules and regulations, an average of 13 rules a day. Seventy-eight of those new rules were major rules. A major rule is any rule that may result in an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more; a major increase in cost or prices for consumers; or a significant adverse effect on the economy. We are already seeing that ObamaCare seems to be the mother of all rules.

The Congressional Research Service reports that ObamaCare gives Federal agencies substantial responsibility and authority to, quote, fill in the blanks, fill in the details, for the legislation that was passed by this Congress and submitted for regulations.

There are more than 40 provisions in the health care overhaul that require, permit, or contemplate Federal rulemaking. We have this tool called the CRA. And I've got a board here that tells you a little bit about it, and I told you some of it. So it passed as part of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996, part of the Contract for America Advancement Act of 1996. The purpose was to allow Congress to review every new Federal regulation issued by the government, government agencies, or passed by a joint resolution and overrule that regulation.

The way it works is the Federal agencies shall submit to each House of Congress and to the Comptroller General a comprehensive report on any major proposed rule. Congress has 60 days to pass a joint resolution of disapproval of any rule. The Senate must vote on the CRA resolution of disapproval if this House votes to disapprove the rule. So that's the way it works. This is a tool that I have a lot of questions with.

My first job out of law school when I was a young, stupid lawyer and had a lot to learn was to be drafting legislation for the Texas Legislative Council. And I didn't learn a lot there, but I learned one thing: When the word ``shall'' appeared, it meant you do it. If it said ``may,'' you had other options you could take. But if the legislation says ``shall submit,'' you shall submit it. You shall do it. You have to do it. But interestingly enough, I don't think that this tells you what happens if you don't. So there are a lot of questions in this bill. This bill needs some further work.

A good friend of mine, Representative GEOFF DAVIS, has actually been looking into putting a little bit more teeth into the Congress' power to oversee these regulations. So, at this time, I'm going to yield as much time as he wishes to consume to my friend, GEOFF DAVIS, to tell us about what he looked at when he started with his REINS Act that he proposed and tell us about it.

Take the time you need.


Mr. CARTER. Reclaiming my time for a moment, this morning, in an airport, as I was coming to Washington, I was on one of the earliest flights going out of Austin, Texas. We're a midsized city, and I've never seen so many lines in my life. I mean, they were a good half mile long. They were back and forth and back and forth. All I could think was that I got there early enough that, by the time I got through, I could just sit and watch the rest of those lines build up. They built up, built up, built up. It was unbelievable.

A guy sitting next to me said, well, there are going to be a lot of people missing their flights today, they're not going to make it--because these were all the people, I guess, who were coming back from Thanksgiving and instead of flying on Sunday when the cost was more they waited until Monday to get a cheaper flight. Well, what is that going to do to the airline industry? They are going to have planes flying empty. They are going to have people demanding refunds. It's going to hurt the airline industry. Before we turn around, we're going to have somebody coming in here and saying, holy cow, TSA put together this regulation, and now we're causing all these airlines to get in serious financial problems and we're going to have to buy the airline industry like we bought the automobile industry. I think we should get out of that business. That's why this Congress, or somebody who must respond to the American people, needs to be involved. That is why I think putting teeth in the Congressional Review Act through the REINS Act is good.


Mr. CARTER. Reclaiming my time, what you just described is part of the American frustration factor that is part of what has got Americans frustrated in this economy right now. It is the unknown. It is the what is the government going to do to me next that's out there that has got businessmen, job creators standing around, scratching their heads, then they hear this story.

I want to tell you a story from my youth. I was working for the legislative counsel, and then when I left that job, I got hired as the attorney for the Ag Committee of the Texas House of Representatives. I will make this short, but it is a great story. The Federal Government passed a new meat-cutting law, and it was going to affect all these mom and pop sausage makers all over the State of Texas--at that time we had literally thousands of them. We were having hearings from these people complaining about what these new regulations were doing to them, and in comes two people from the Department of Corrections with a guy in a prison uniform. They put him on the stand in the Ag Committee and said, what are you here to testify about? And he said, me and my brother were the best sausage makers in east Texas, we were the best. And this fellow comes in our door one day and says, I'm from the Federal Government, I've got some new regulations. You're going to have to tear out all your equipment and buy new equipment. He said we went to the bank and we borrowed $25,000 because he said we made the best sausage in east Texas and we put it all in. Six months later that same fellow came through our door and said we've got new regulations, you've got to have a drain and a cement floor and you've got to have all stainless steel, so all that stuff has got to go. He said, me and my brother, we went down and borrowed another $50,000 from the bank and we redid all that. He said, about 1 year later that same fellow walked in the door and said, I've got bad news for you, so I shot the guy, and now I'm in prison for attempted manslaughter. That is a true story.


Mr. CARTER. I'm glad you're here with me, and I hope you'll join me again because we're going to be talking about this a lot this year because it's something that matters to the American people. I encourage them to contact us if there are regulations that are of their lives that are driving them crazy because we want to talk about these things. And we need to get to work getting the teeth put in the previous act so we can actually get this accomplished and start fleecing out these, I would say, intrusive regulations that are costing us jobs when our job here today and every day until this country is back on its feet is to create jobs, not cost jobs.

I think it's time for me to call it a night tonight. So we're going to rein this thing in. And I thank you for joining me tonight, Mr. Davis, and we will visit some more.

I yield back the balance of my time.

Skip to top

Help us stay free for all your Fellow Americans

Just $5 from everyone reading this would do it.

Back to top