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Public Statements

Directing Committees to Renew Regulations from Federal Agencies

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. SMITH of Texas. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Madam Speaker, 2 years ago, and 2 years into the current administration, Washington policies have not rescued our economy from crisis. In fact, they have entrenched the crisis. American workers and American companies pay the price as Washington regulations stifle job creation and slow economic recovery.

The Judiciary Committee doesn't have jurisdiction over sweeping economic regulations, but it does have jurisdiction over something that sweeps with just as much force. That is the administrative law that governs how agencies must respond to Congress and what agencies must consider before they regulate at all.

The REINS Act enables us to reassert Congress' authority over the most burdensome regulations that our agencies churn out. These are major regulations--those that impose a burden of $100 million or more on our economy.

The REINS Act requires Congress, not an unelected agency head, to decide whether regulations with massive costs become the law of the land. The Judiciary Committee has already begun hearings on the REINS Act and intends to move quickly to mark up this legislation.

Small businesses are the heart of job creation. Rather than bend to small business' needs, Washington too often rigidly demands that small businesses bend to Washington.

Overbearing one-size-fits-all Federal regulations have long been the order of the day. Small businesses cannot bear their weight. Since small businesses are the engine of job creation, it is clear what suffers--that is, jobs.

This week, I introduced the Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act of 2011 to force Federal agencies to accommodate the needs of small businesses. Yesterday, the Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the bill, and it intends to mark up that bill soon.

Let's reform the Administrative Procedure Act, the fundamental charter for all agency rulemaking. While it is not time to retire the APA, it is past time to strengthen it with commonsense reforms. We should make permanent cost benefit analysis requirements that Presidents have developed through Executive orders. Practice has proved that cost benefit analysis improves regulatory effectiveness and lowers regulatory cost. But an Executive order, no matter how wise, can be revoked by the next resident of the White House.

Other vital reforms also must take place. Agencies' favorite and almost universal course under the APA is informal notice-and-comment rulemaking. This procedure is certainly convenient and it does have its place, but under its shelter, it has long been too easy for Big Government to impose hard-hitting rules without sufficiently vetting them. This should change. We should consider tougher requirements that agencies must demonstrate a need for regulations.

Congress and the courts provide daily proof that evidence tested with witnesses at hearings produces the best judgments. Why shouldn't agencies use formal rulemaking hearings to evaluate the need for major regulations that cost hundreds of millions of dollars?

We also should make sure the public has earlier opportunities to comment on potential agency action. Public input should come well before agency positions harden into settled, but often underinformed, judgments. Under traditional one-time notice-and-comment procedures, agency decisions are too often made before public comment even happens.

President Obama has embraced a number of these principles with both spoken and written words. So I hope we will have bipartisan support for our efforts to pass meaningful legislation that will help create jobs.

Madam Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. SMITH of Texas. Madam Speaker, I yield myself 30 seconds.

Madam Speaker, I just want to point out to my friends on the other side of the aisle and to those who are watching this debate that both Supreme Court Justice Breyer and well-known and well-regarded Professor Larry Tribe have written supporting the constitutional basis of the REINS Act. It is clearly constitutional. It is clearly going to create jobs. By the way, that's as opposed to the new health care bill, which the CBO said yesterday was actually going to cost 800,000 jobs.

Madam Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to my colleague from Texas (Mr. Poe).


Mr. SMITH of Texas. I thank my friend, the ranking member, for yielding.

The source of the information that I have used and that Judge Poe has used in saying that the health care bill is going to cost 800,000 jobs is from a report released yesterday by the Congressional Budget Office, saying that the health care bill would cost 800,000 jobs.

The CBO, as we all know, is an independent, credible, outside agency upon whom we rely for information on a regular basis. For them to come out and say that the health care bill is going to cost 800,000 jobs is, quite frankly, believable and the reason, I think, we can cite them as a credible source.

Mr. CONYERS. Reclaiming my time, I frequently cite them as a credible source myself; but would the chairman of the committee explain how we insure millions more people and then have fewer and fewer jobs?

Did the CBO explain anything about this job loss and about how the health care system would be considerably expanded but would at the same time lose jobs and would do it with fewer people? Would the chairman of the committee assist me in understanding that apparent disconnect?

I yield to the gentleman.

Mr. SMITH of Texas. I can't explain the disconnect because I don't think there is a disconnect.

We can certainly supply you with the testimony that was offered by the CBO yesterday in which they said it would cost 800,000 jobs. We'll look for a copy of that testimony, or the other Judiciary staff members might be able to supply us with a copy of that as well.

I don't think there is a disconnect. I believe the CBO. I do believe that the health care bill is going to cost 800,000 jobs.

I thank the gentleman for yielding.


Mr. SMITH of Texas. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Madam Speaker, I just want to say to my Texas colleague who just spoke that I know and appreciate how strongly she feels about saving jobs in Houston, creating jobs in Houston, as I do, too, but we heard yesterday from the CBO that this new health care bill is going to cost America 800,000 jobs. And it just so happens if you prorate that out, that would mean that the new health care bill will cost Houston, Texas, around 600 jobs, and of course, it will cost other communities around the country jobs as well. So the best way to try to save jobs in Houston, the best way to try to prevent jobs from being lost in Houston, would be to vote to repeal the health care bill.

Now, the gentlewoman from Texas also raised the subject of immigration. I wasn't aware that that was connected to this bill, but I'm also happy to reply to her comments about that subject as well. Today in America, there are roughly 7 million people who are working illegally in this country. They are taking jobs that should go to the 26 million Americans who are either unemployed or underemployed. So, once again, if we want to create jobs for Americans in this country, one way to do so would be to make sure that only legal workers are employed in this country, and we have ways to accomplish that end.

Madam Speaker, I now yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from South Carolina (Mr. Gowdy), who is the vice chairman of the Administrative Law Subcommittee.


Mr. SMITH of Texas. Madam Speaker, I yield myself 30 seconds.

I just want to point out that the figure we have been using that the health care bill is going to cost 800,000 jobs is not necessarily an old figure. Or maybe I should concede it's a day old, because that figure came from yesterday's testimony by the Budget Director in front of the Budget Committee. I said Budget Director. Let me read the statement:

``Testifying today before the House Budget Committee, Congressional Budget Office Director Doug Elmendorf confirmed that ObamaCare is expected to reduce the number of jobs in the labor market by an estimated 800,000 people.''

The SPEAKER pro tempore. The time of the gentleman has expired.

Mr. SMITH of Texas. I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Here are excerpts from the exchange. In response to a couple of questions by Members of Congress, the last question was from Representative John Campbell of California, the Director of the CBO said in response to a question, ``Is it going to cost 800,000 jobs?'' his one-word answer was ``yes.''

So those are fresh figures, they are accurate figures, and I think we need to be very acutely aware of just how many jobs the new health care plan is going to cost.

Madam Speaker, I would now like to yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from Arkansas (Mr. Griffin), who is also a member of the Judiciary Committee.


Mr. SMITH of Texas. I yield myself the balance of my time.

Madam Speaker, the American people and American employers know what Washington has not learned: too many regulations impose too many costs and cost too many jobs. The Judiciary Committee is working hard on the reforms we need to tame Washington and unleash American businesses to create jobs. We should pass the REINS Act, pass the Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act, reform the Administrative Procedure Act and the practice of too many regulations with too many costs for too few benefits.

Madam Speaker, I think this debate really comes down to a very simple question. There are those who favor a government of regulations and there are those of us who feel that Congress should oversee and approve the most burdensome regulations. Any Member of Congress who feels that Congress should oversee and approve the most burdensome regulations, I believe, will support this bill.

Madam Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.


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