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Red Tape Reduction and Small Business Job Creation Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. CUMMINGS. Madam Chair, I support the amendment offered by Mr. Connolly.

The congressional waiver provision in this underlying bill is a farce. It requires the President to ask Congress its permission to issue a regulation and then wait for both Houses of Congress to approve the waiver. Give me a break. That could take months in the best case, but the more likely scenario is that it would never happen at all--and everybody knows that.

By adopting this amendment, we can ensure that the President can truly issue regulations when needed. Under this amendment, the waiver provision in the underlying bill will be changed so that if Congress doesn't act within 7 days on a waiver request submitted to it by the President, the waiver would be granted.

Let me be clear: under this amendment, Congress would still have the opportunity to object to a regulation when necessary. This amendment simply ensures that Congress' failure to act doesn't prevent the President from issuing needed regulations.

The majority claims that the congressional waiver provision in the underlying bill will ensure that the President can still issue important regulations. If the majority really intends to give the President that flexibility, they will adopt this amendment.

I hope my colleagues will join me in supporting this amendment.


Mr. CUMMINGS. I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I strongly oppose the amendment offered by the gentleman from West Virginia (Mr. McKinley), which would make a very dangerous bill even more devastating to the American people. If implemented, this amendment would broaden the scope of this legislation to impede the issuance of even more rules than are impeded by the underlying bill itself.

By lowering the threshold at which a ``significant regulatory action'' is measured from rules that have an annual cost to the economy of $100 million or more to just $50 million or more, the legislation would prevent the implementation of important rules whose benefits far outweigh their costs.

One of the things that we do not zero in on with regard to this legislation overall--and we saw it in our committee--is the cost-benefit analysis. I think it's very, very significant, when you think about the fact that there are certain regs which save lives, many which protect our constituents with regard to their pocketbooks, all kinds of things. Sometimes when you just look at the cost of a business coming in and complaining, as opposed to balancing it with regard to benefits, sometimes I think things get out of balance.

The amendment clearly illustrates why Cass Sunstein believes a moratorium on the issuance of regulations is such a bad idea. As he stated at an Oversight Committee hearing last September, he said:

A moratorium would not be a scalpel or a machete, it would be more like a nuclear bomb, in the sense that it would prevent regulations that cost very little, and have very significant economic or public health benefits.

This amendment only increases the size of the bomb we are dropping.

Just one example of a pending regulation that would be halted by this amendment is the Securities and Exchange Commission's proposed rule implementing a section of the Dodd-Frank Act to reduce the purchase of ``conflict minerals''--minerals whose sale by combatants in the Democrat Republic of Congo is known to fund the human rights abuses perpetrated by these combatants.

Dodd-Frank requires the SEC to issue a rule directing publicly held companies to disclose whether any of four metals--gold, tantalum, tungsten or tin--used in the products they produce came from Central Africa, where trade in these commodities has funded years of civil war. The SEC issued a proposed rule in December 2010, but has delayed finalizing the rule in response to fierce business opposition and business lobbying. This proposed rule is estimated to cost industry $71 million per year.

The benefits of this rule cannot be quantified, simply cannot. By ensuring that publicly traded companies in the United States track the supply chain of minerals and disclose whether their purchases are financing armed groups responsible for committing atrocities--killing people, rapes, hurting people--this proposed rule will save lives and help prevent sexual and gender-based violence. Adopting this amendment would prohibit the issuance of this regulation intended to help quell international violence and help end a humanitarian crisis.

We simply cannot put financial profit, as I said a few minutes ago, above our moral obligation to protect the most vulnerable among us. So, ladies and gentlemen, I urge Members to oppose this incredibly dangerous amendment, and I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. CUMMINGS. I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I strongly oppose the amendment offered by the gentleman from Arizona (Mr. Schweikert), which would make an already ambiguous bill even harder to implement. The amendment proposes to define the term ``annual cost to the economy'' as including ``any expected change in revenue of businesses'' caused by such regulation, including any change in revenue as a result of preparing for the implementation of the regulation.

Imagine the consequences of this amendment. If it would cost a business any additional funds to ensure that baby formula does not contain toxic substances, that business could block a regulation requiring those safety measures. Is that really how we want to run our country?

The truth is that businesses routinely blame regulations for costs they already incur. For example, power companies routinely blame the EPA for the fact that high-cost coal plants struggle to compete in today's market with lower-cost natural gas plants. Despite the fact that many of these coal plants are shut down because they are uncompetitive, some repeatedly blame EPA regulations for forcing their closings.

The intention of this amendment appears to be to give businesses a veto over any regulation they oppose just by claiming that it's implementation somehow affects their bottom line. Since it would be virtually impossibility for OMB to confirm or deny such claims, they would be irrefutable.

Now, I do believe that the cost of regulations imposed on industry should be one of many factors considered when we compare the overall costs and benefits of a rule. But these costs should not be the overriding factor to be considered, as this amendment would require.

The amendment is just another example of the misguided effort to put business' profits before the health and safety of the American people. Therefore, I urge Members to oppose this unworkable and harmful amendment.

I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. CUMMINGS. I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Madam Chairman, Federal securities law requires financial disclosures by public companies for the benefit of shareholders and investors. The Securities and Exchange Commission provides detailed guidance on how to interpret and comply with these disclosure requirements, which are intended to ensure that potential investors fully understand a security before they purchase it.

The SEC recently provided guidance on existing rules that require companies to disclose the impact that business or legal developments related to climate change could have on a company's bottom line. They want investors to know about this.

These disclosures help investors understand how climate change affects a company's operations and their potential investments in the company. This amendment seeks to prevent this guidance from taking place. It seeks to keep investors in the dark.

Rules discussed in the SEC's guidance are clearly needed, and the SEC's guidance will help publicly traded companies understand how key areas of climate change--such as new legislation or international accords--could affect what they need to disclose to the public. This guidance is also intended to help companies explain how the physical impacts of climate change could affect their performance.

In issuing this guidance, the SEC did not opine on the science of climate change. The guidance seeks to help companies assess the possibility that events related to climate change may materially affect their bottom lines and trigger public disclosure requirements. This guidance is prudent and serves to benefit both the investor and the company.

Ironically, with this amendment, my friends on the other side of the aisle who proclaim the value of transparency are acting to hurt investors by denying them important information. This amendment would also harm Wall Street by preventing the SEC from issuing clear guidance to help publicly traded firms understand what they need to disclose on this topic to ensure full compliance with the law. It provides them certainty.

So I urge my colleagues to oppose this amendment, and I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. CUMMINGS. When we had the SEC come before our committee, I made it very clear that I thought more could have been done with regard to Madoff, and I think it was extremely unfortunate what happened. But, again, that does not mean that we shouldn't provide clarity over all subjects which may affect investors. And that's what we're talking about here.

I'm going to rely on my argument, but I'm going to also yield to my good friend, Mr. Frank from Massachusetts.


Mr. CUMMINGS. Let me be clear, the SEC has the responsibility to disclose the information that investors need, and this is one of those areas. We want to protect investors with everything we have. I think this amendment flies in the face of that, and I would hope that the body would vote against the amendment.

I yield back the balance of my time.


Mr. CUMMINGS. On first read, Madam Chair, this amendment may sound like a good idea. However, it's true effect would be to put the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy in charge of deciding whether any agency in the entire executive branch can make policy decisions.

The amendment says that no policy decision issued by any agency after the end of this year can take effect until that agency's guidelines on scientific integrity have been approved by the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

I agree that agencies should have strong guidelines on scientific integrity. In fact, agencies are already required to have such guidelines in place under a memo issued by President Obama. However, it's not realistic to expect that the Office of Science and Technology Policy could approve guidelines for every agency by January 1, 2013.

The amendment would undermine the integrity of science in the Federal Government by jeopardizing the ability of agencies to use our best science to protect Americans' health and safety. Specifically, the amendment would block any ``listing, labeling, or other identification of a substance, product, or activity as hazardous, or creating risk to human health, safety or the environment.''

Under this amendment, for example, the FDA could not alert the public about a defective drug, the Department of Homeland Security could not implement safety measures to screen for terrorists, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission could not recommend an evacuation zone if there was a nuclear accident.

This amendment, I'm sure, is well-intentioned, but the way it has been drafted makes it dangerous. I urge my colleagues to vote against it.

I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. CUMMINGS. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I just want to clear up something. It has been said that this would affect matters that would likely have an annual cost to the economy of over $100,000 or more, in other words, those that would be subject to the bill. But the piece that is left out on page 8 of the bill--and this is very crucial. It says:

Or if OMB determines--or adversely affect--that is, legislation rules, proposed rules--that would adversely affect in a material way the economy, a sector of the economy, productivity, competition, jobs, the environment, public health or safety, small entities or State, local, or tribal governments or communities.

And, of course, the bill goes on to say that OMB may make a determination, but if there is an entity that is agreed, they can always go to court. It's not accurate to say that it's just limited to those types of regulations that would affect the economy to the tune of $100 million. It actually affects a whole lot more than that.

With that, I continue to reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. CUMMINGS. I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Chairman, I would just like to say, in closing, that the debate today proves that this bill is an extreme attack on the regulatory system.

Republicans have put critical protections on the line by proposing to shut down the regulatory process with a bill that was ill-conceived from the start and that was cobbled together so quickly it is riddled with flaws that render it unworkable.

I might also say that one of the things that I've said over and over again, and I think the position has been--I know it's the position of the President--that we must have balance with regard to regulations. I think that Mr. Waxman and certainly Mr. Frank were absolutely right. It's not a question of distrust. It's a question of making sure that we have regulations in place to protect the safety and welfare of our citizens, and we don't need to look too far.

When I look at my district and I see the many people who lost so much because of what happened on Wall Street and what happened just recently with regard to the banks, the fact is that regulation is needed. If any committee has had evidence of it, it is our committee, Oversight and Government Reform.

We've heard no evidence today that regulations kill jobs. We've heard no evidence that regulations hurt our economy. We've heard countless examples of how regulations can improve the health and safety of Americans and save lives. It is so very important that we keep in mind that balance that I talked about.

It's also important that we keep in mind what this President has done. President Obama has made sure that he has taken a careful look at those rules, those regulations that were unnecessary. He has put forth less regulations than either former President Bush. He has slowed down the process of approving regulations. I think, clearly, he is headed in the right direction as to what I just said about a balanced approach.

So I hope the American people understand that this legislation is not advancing their interests. I repeatedly said that the majority is forcing a false choice. We do not have to choose between creating jobs and protecting the health and safety of American families. We can and must do both. This legislation does neither, and I urge all our Members to vote against it.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.


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