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

Public Statements

Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act of 2011

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

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

The American people today have been hit by an onslaught of unnecessary Federal regulations. From the Obama administration's health care mandate to the increase of burdens on small businesses, government regulation has become a barrier to economic growth and job creation.

By its own admission, the administration is preparing numerous regulations that each will cost the economy $1 billion or more per year. Its 2011 regulatory agenda calls for over 200 major rules which will affect the economy by $100 million or more each every year.

Employers, the people who create jobs and pay taxes, are rightly concerned about these costs and the costs that regulations impose on their businesses. In a Gallup poll conducted last month, nearly one-quarter of small business owners cited compliance with government regulations as their primary concern. That should motivate us to take action today.

Rather than restrain its efforts to expand government, the administration now seeks to accomplish through regulatory agencies what it cannot get approved by Congress. The REINS Act gives the people's representatives in Congress the final say over whether Washington will impose major new regulations on the American economy.

More than once this year, the President himself has talked about the dangers that excessive regulations pose to our economy. He has called for reviews of existing regulations. He has professed a commitment to more transparency. The President has stated that ``it is extremely important to minimize regulatory burdens and avoid unjustified regulatory costs.''

Unfortunately, the President's actions speak louder than his words. But rather than make good on its statements, the Obama administration has proposed four times the number of major regulations than the previous administration over a similar time period. And the White House has admitted to Congress that, for most new major regulations issued in 2010, government failed to analyze both the cost and the benefits.

It is time for Congress to take action to reverse these harmful policies. With the REINS Act, we can hold the administration accountable for its unjustified regulatory assault on America's job creators; and we can guarantee that Congress, not unelected agency officials, will be accountable for all new major regulatory costs.

The American people want job creation, not more regulation. The REINS Act reins in out-of-control Federal regulations that burden America's businesses and job creators.

I thank Mr. Davis of Kentucky for introducing this legislation. I urge all my colleagues to support the REINS Act, and I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself 15 seconds.

I want to set the record straight. The bill is not antiregulatory but pro-accountability. It will enable both Republican and Democratic majorities in Congress to make the final calls on major regulations that come from administrations of either party. Majorities of either party can be expected to approve regulations whenever appropriate, but the key is that Congress always be held accountable.


Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Chairman, I thank my Texas colleague for yielding me time, and I also thank him for offering this amendment.

The bill restores to Congress the accountability for the regulatory decisions that impose major burdens on our economy. As Congress makes those decisions, one of the most important facts to consider is whether new regulations produce jobs or destroy them.

The amendment guarantees that when agencies submit new regulations to Congress, their cost benefit analyses will be made available.

The amendment also assures that agencies will specifically identify regulations' impact on private and public sector jobs. With that information, Congress will be in a position to determine whether to approve the rules. And the American people will be in a postilion to hold Congress accountable for those decisions.

I urge my colleagues to support the amendment.


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

[Begin Insert]
The amendment carves out of the bill regulations that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) determines 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 regulation's jobs impacts. Far too often, OMB will be tempted to shade the analysis to skirt the bill's congressional approval requirement.

In addition, regulations alleged to create net 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 (EPA) 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 is no guarantee that all of the new, ``green'' jobs will ever actually exist.

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 too long, where there is no accountability because decisions are made by unelected agency officials.

The amendment would undermine that fundamental choice.

I urge my colleagues to oppose the amendment.

[End Insert]
I yield back the balance of my time.


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

[Begin Insert]
The amendment leaves it to each agency to determine how it will conduct cost-benefit analyses of new regulations. This is regrettable. Each agency will be tempted to design rules that it can manipulate to claim that benefits routinely outweigh costs.

The Regulatory Accountability Act, which the House passed on December 2, 2011, calls for agencies to follow uniform guidelines for cost-benefit analyses. This improves quality and prevents deceptive actions by rogue agencies. The amendment undercuts that effort.

Similarly, under Executive Order 12866, the President has long required agencies to follow uniform guidelines for cost-benefit analyses. The amendment undermines that requirement, too.

I urge my colleagues to oppose the amendment.


Mr. SMITH of Texas. I thank the gentleman from West Virginia for yielding me time.

I share my colleague's desire to bring more congressional scrutiny to major regulations and appreciate his interest in the subject.

I know that recent major regulations have hit West Virginia and the gentleman's constituents particularly hard. The Environmental Protection Agency's major regulations that affect energy sources and power production are among the most troubling.

I look forward to continued discussions with the gentleman on these and other issues of interest to him.


Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Chair, I oppose the amendment.

The amendment carves out of the bill essential categories of major regulations. These include all major rules on food safety, workplace safety, consumer product safety, clean water and clean air.

In many cases, these are precisely the agency actions that impose the most costs, do not produce enough benefits and do not faithfully implement Congress' intent.

A good example is the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) recent proposal to control mercury emissions from coal- and oil-fired power plants. EPA estimated that the rule would cost $11 billion annually to achieve at most just $6 million in total mercury reduction benefits. That is a 1,833:1 cost-benefit ratio.

Most of the benefits EPA identified to justify the rule had nothing to do with the control of hazardous air pollution.

Proponents of regulation have nothing to fear from the REINS Act. When agencies prepare good major regulations, Congress will be able to approve them. This provides agencies with a powerful incentive to get major regulations right the first time.

When an agency prepares a bad regulation, however, Congress will be able to correct the agency and send it back to the drawing board.

In the end, the agency will find a way to issue a good regulation that Congress approves. But until it does, those who must pay for regulations will not have to pay for the costs of a misguided major rule.

I urge my colleagues to oppose the amendment.


Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Chair, I oppose the amendment.

The amendment seeks to shield the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) 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 drivers' licenses under the REAL ID Act. Ten years after 9/11 hijackers used fraudulent licenses to board airplanes used to murder 3,000 innocent Americans, DHS continues to extend the deadline.

Another example is the Department's 2009 rule to recall the Bush Administration's ``no-match'' rule. That regulation helped companies to identify illegal workers and comply with Federal immigration law.

When the Obama Administration issued its rule to repeal ``no-match,'' it put the interests of illegal immigrants above those of millions of unemployed Americans and legal immigrants.

This is the kind of decision making 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. The REINS Act is available to do that.

I urge my colleagues to oppose the amendment.


Skip to top

Help us stay free for all your Fellow Americans

Just $5 from everyone reading this would do it.

Thank You!

You are about to be redirected to a secure checkout page.

Please note:

The total order amount will read $0.00 but know that a recurring donation of the amount and frequency that you selected will be processed and initiated tomorrow. You may see a charge of $0.00 on your statement.

Continue to secure page »

Back to top