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Providing for Consideration of H.R. 4078, Red Tape Reduction and Small Business Job Creation Act, and Providing for Consideration of H.R. 6082, Congressional Replacement of President Obama's Energy-Restricting and Job-Limiting Offshore Drilling Plan

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. LANKFORD. I thank Ms. Foxx, my colleague, for her kind introduction on that.

All aspects of this bill, each part of it, has gone through the committee process. Multiple of them have had multiple hearings related to them. There has been plenty of opportunity to be able to allow for input and for votes through the traditional committee process on this.

The reality is that red tape is strangling our businesses. Each day, they wake up, and they are worried about what the Federal Government is going to do to them rather than what the Federal Government is going to do for them. There is an appropriate role for the Federal Government for regulations, but it seems like there is a never-ending acceleration of regulations--and not just small--they get larger and larger and larger and more and more expensive and more and more nonsensical at times.

Let me just give you one quick example of this: community bankers that are facing hundreds of new regulations.

When the problem seemed to be the largest investment banks, the one who got hit the hardest with the regulations were the community banks. Now community banks have to step aside. A bank that may have 14 to 20 employees and $50 million or less in total assets, which is a very small rural bank, has to go and prove that these rules don't apply to them. That involves their hiring outside attorneys. That involves setting aside staff that should be doing loans. That involves setting aside additional time to prove these hundreds of rules don't apply to them and that they're not a big bank. Regulations passed on to them--death by a thousand paper cuts is how they explain it to me.

Simplicity and common sense need to be applied to how we do regulations. When there is no check and balance in the regulatory environment, it needs to have that.

Now, the other side seems to assume that, occasionally, Americans are in need of daily oversight by the Federal Government, that unless some Federal bureaucrat or some Federal regulator is not standing next to their beds when they get up that they won't know how to get to work and that, when they get to work, they're going to cheat a neighbor and that, on the way home, they're going to cheat another neighbor, so we'd better have a Federal regulator standing right next to them because American citizens can't be trusted to do the right thing without Federal control.

I would say the neighbors that I live around, in the cities that I visit all over America, have great citizens who want to do the right thing and are doing the right thing and are serving their neighbors. We have great city and State governments. They're doing very good regulatory schemes. We should trust them more to engage in what they're doing in the communities that they live in, where they eat the food, where they drink the water. They are the first line of defense on that, rather than taking all those things to Washington, D.C., and assuming all Americans can't function without someone from Washington, D.C., checking on them each and every day. Let me just give you a couple things on that.

During the first hearing that I participated in here in this Congress, someone from the other side extolled the benefits of adding more regulations because companies were sitting on money and were not spending it. This was a way to force companies to hire additional people by hiring compliance officers--people to oversee regulations--and that, if we couldn't increase employment in America through producing more goods and services, we would increase employment in America by creating more bureaucrats just in the private business.

That's not how I see that you should grow an economy. Let me just highlight one area, one title of this great bill.

Title IV of this is the Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act of 2011. This was a bill that started in the previous Congress with Ms. Virginia Foxx as the author. That bill went through multiple processes in the previous Congress. We picked it up in the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and we did three hearings on it at the beginning of last year. We had city leaders, we had State and county leaders, we had private business leaders, and we had administration individuals from this administration and from the previous administration come and testify.

In 1995, the House and the Senate and the President signed a bill called the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act. It was a wide bipartisan act--394 votes in the House and 91 votes in the Senate--to give information to the House and to the Senate before decisions were made about what is an unfunded mandate, and what effect will that have.

There are large loopholes that have been exploited in the last 17 years. This bill aims to fix those loopholes:

It takes in all the independent agencies, and it also puts them under those same requirements;

It puts in the language that President Clinton put in in Executive Order 12866 in order to clarify this, that the administration's functioned under. It puts that language and codifies it from President Clinton into this bill. It also takes a clarification of President Obama's that he has for this bill and also adds it into the language;

It redefines ``direct costs'' with how the CBO already defines ``direct costs,'' and it actually codifies that language and provides ability;

It allows for a ranking member or a chairman of a committee to do an analysis of a rule to make sure that it is not exceeding our unfunded mandates requirements. It is very bipartisan. It's not just the chairman. A chairman or a ranking member can get in on that.

It is the intent of this, in this modern regulatory environment, to clean this up and to make sure Congress has the information to make their decisions.


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