Red Tape Reduction and Small Business Job Creation Act

Floor Speech

By:  Tim Griffin
Date: July 25, 2012
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. GRIFFIN of Arkansas. Mr. Chairman, first of all, I would like to say that the idea that this bill will stop good, reasonable, commonsense, and much-needed regulations is nonsense. It simply requires Congress to have a role. And after all, Congress is the body that authorizes laws and regulations in the first place. That just makes sense. The complications that so many complain about, I call checks and balances.

I rise in support of H.R. 4078, the Red Tape Reduction and Small Business Job Creation Act. This bill would freeze significant regulations, those costing the economy $100 million or more, until nationwide unemployment falls to 6 percent or below.

Many of my friends on the other side say there's no connection between excessive and overly burdensome regulation and job creation. They must have been asking their favorite economist and not talking to actual job creators. Even President Obama disagrees.

In a January 2011 Wall Street Journal op-ed, President Obama wrote:

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

He has at least given lip service to the problem.

Small businesses like Razor Chemical, a manufacturer of environmentally friendly cleaning supplies in North Little Rock, Arkansas, bear the brunt of regulatory compliance costs. According to the government's Small Business Administration, complying with current Federal regulations already costs at least $1.75 trillion every year, adding more than $10,000 in overhead per small business employee--which is 30 percent higher than the regulatory costs facing large firms.

Half of all private sector employees in the United States are employed by a small business job creator--exactly the type of folks who are getting hammered by the Obama administration's aggressive regulatory agenda. In its first 3 years, the Obama administration created 120 new major regulations, costing Americans more than $46 billion each year. That's more than four times the number and five times the cost of major regulations created by the Bush administration in its first 3 years.

As the lead sponsor of this bill, I made sure it carefully targets the most harmful regulations while making exceptions for Federal rules necessary for national security, trade agreements, enforcement of criminal and civil rights laws, and imminent threats to health or safety.

It also includes a provision allowing the President to seek congressional approval for other regulations that he thinks are absolutely critical. And, in fact, with that waiver, you can pretty much pass any regulation as long as Congress agrees.

In his State of the Union address, President Obama admitted, ``There's no question that some regulations are outdated, unnecessary or too costly.''

If there's no question about the problem, he should embrace the House's solution.


Mr. GRIFFIN of Arkansas. Well, I thank the gentleman.

First of all, I don't know anyone who's antiregulation. It's the excessive and overly burdensome regulations that are the problems.

I have a 2-year-old baby, John, and a 4-year-old, Mary Katherine. I want clean air and clean water for them.

I understand the need for reasonable, commonsense regulations, but that's not what we're talking about here, with all due respect.


Mr. GRIFFIN of Arkansas. I oppose this amendment because it is unnecessary and weakens the important reforms made by the bill. This administration has been issuing a torrent of the most expensive regulations, each of which cost the economy over $100 million. According to a study by The Heritage Foundation, President Obama already has adopted 106 regulations that add $46 billion in annual regulatory costs to the private sector, and nearly $11 billion in one-time implementation cost.

By contrast, in his first 3 years in office, President Bush adopted 28 major regulations costing the private sector $8 billion annually.

The bill is designed only to prevent unnecessary regulations. Titles I and II have reasonable exceptions for the President to allow regulations necessary because of an ``imminent threat to health or safety or other emergency.'' And the congressional waiver provision of title I allows the President to authorize regulations during the moratorium period with the permission of Congress. Regulations that the President wants enacted simply have to go through Congress. Balance of power.

Title III prevents agencies from using litigation with special interest groups to force more regulations on the economy without sufficient transparency, public participation, and judicial scrutiny. For too long, agencies have used consent decrees and settlement agreements as cover to promulgate regulations with less time for review of cost and benefits, alternatives, and public comment. This is yet another way that agencies impose unnecessary and ill-considered regulations on the public. It should be stopped.

For these reasons, I oppose the amendment, and I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. GRIFFIN of Arkansas. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I would just like to make it clear, again, that any regulations that are needed, that the gentleman from Florida feels are needed, that the President feels are needed, those can be enacted under this law. It simply requires Congress to play a role. I have no doubt that the President opposes this bill. I understand that he doesn't want to share his regulatory power with this body. I'm sure a lot of Presidents might feel that way. But it is all about separation of powers and sharing power and allowing this body to have a say.

I yield back the balance of my time.


Mr. GRIFFIN of Arkansas. I oppose this amendment, Mr. Chairman, because it is unnecessary. Titles I and II of the bill, the regulatory freeze and midnight rules titles, apply only to those regulations that are most costly to the economy, costing $100 million or more. Unfortunately, these are the kinds of rules that the Obama administration is issuing at a much faster rate than the previous administration.

Under President Bush, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs' biannual regulatory agenda on average reported 77 economically significant regulations in the proposed and final stages of the rulemaking process. By comparison, President Obama's biannual average is 124.

I would also note that President Obama's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs has not yet issued the spring 2012 regulatory agenda, although judging by the weather alone, I would say that spring is well behind us.

This can only add to the regulatory uncertainty that discourages job creation. It is no wonder, then, that a Gallup Poll found that small businessowners cite complying with government regulations as their most important problem. The Federal Government needs to slow down on issuing the most costly regulations until the economy has a chance to recover or until this body approves regulations forwarded to it. Even if a regulation related to privacy met the $100 million threshold for titles I and II, I am confident that the bill's reasonable waiver procedures would allow any necessary privacy regulation to move forward. There is no reason that regulations related to privacy should be exempt from the reforms to consent decree abuse contained in title III. For these reasons, I oppose this amendment and yield back the balance of my time.


Mr. GRIFFIN of Arkansas. Mr. Chairman, one of the things that I've been saying repeatedly when the other amendments were debated I will repeat: the bill that we have before us has ample exceptions for regulatory action. And, in fact, it has a catch-all waiver that will allow the President of the United States to seek approval of regulations, but he'll have to work with Congress on them. After all, we're the ones that authorize the laws, the bills; and we should be authorizing and approving regulations.

There's no limit to which ones. The regulations addressed by this amendment would certainly be fertile ground for the President to forward to Congress for approval. So there are ample exceptions and waivers.

And I would also point out that, as I indicated earlier, I'm not anti-regulation. It's the excessive and overly burdensome regulations that we are concerned with. We need reasonable regulation, commonsense regulation. But the problem is the system, the regulatory system, has gotten out of control.

So there are ample ways to deal with the issue addressed here under the bill, and I believe this amendment is unnecessary, and I oppose it.

I yield back the balance of my time.


Mr. GRIFFIN of Arkansas. Mr. Chairman, this amendment is, like the others, unnecessary. And as it is drafted, it seems to suggest that the Federal Government can somehow regulate the weather.

Titles I and II of this bill were carefully drafted to block only those unnecessary, most costly regulations, those that cost the economy $100 million or more. The bill contains reasonable exceptions for the President to issue a regulation, for example, that is ``necessary because of an imminent threat to health or safety or other emergency'' or one that is ``necessary for the national security of the United States.''

The bill also contains a congressional waiver exception whereby the President can make any other necessary regulation with the permission of Congress.

King Canute famously demonstrated many centuries ago that the weather does not respect executive fiat. Although the Federal Government cannot control the weather by regulation, it can issue regulations to help Americans cope with the effects of extreme weather.

I believe the exceptions already in this bill would cover regulations related to the extreme weather events suggested by the gentleman from Massachusetts' amendment. For these reasons, I oppose this amendment.

I reserve the balance of my time.


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