“YES” on the REINS Act (H.R. 26)

This week, the House will vote on the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act of 2017 (H.R.  26).  The bill, introduced by Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) 79%, would increase accountability for and transparency in the federal regulatory process by requiring Congress to approve all new major regulations.

The Heritage Foundation explains lawmakers should be held accountable for the regulatory policies of the federal government; specifically, Congress should be explicitly responsible for major federal regulations.  The REINS Act would restore a level of accountability to the legislative process by preventing Congress from simply passing legislation that delegates significant discretion to the executive (i.e., Obamacare, Dodd-Frank, etc.) and then denying further responsibility.

Congress’s habit of passing vague legislation has left the doors wide open for a wave of rising red tape.  Federal regulations were already on the rise before President Obama came to office, but during his time in office, regulations have grown dramatically.  Indeed, by the end of 2015, the Obama administration had adopted over 229 major regulations – those costing $100 million or more annually – imposing some $108 billion in new annual costs on the American economy.  Congress has the constitutional authority to control regulatory growth because the thousands of regulations that currently exist are created through power delegated to agencies by Congress itself and the rules can always be modified or revoked by legislation passed by Congress.

The REINS Act would significantly change the way these rules are adopted.  In previous testimony before the Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law, The Heritage Foundation’s James Gattuso explained:

The REINS Act would finally give a real bite to regulatory review by, in effect, reversing the burden of proof. Specifically, promulgation of major rules would be conditioned on approval by Congress. They would not be formally adopted until and unless a “resolution of approval” is adopted by Congress. As with the CRA’s “resolution of disapproval,” this resolution would be subject to fast-track consideration.

This is undeniably a significant change in the way rules are adopted. The effect, however, is to reinforce, not to upset, the constitutional balance of powers. As a first matter, the change merely restores Congress’s constitutional role of legislating, much of which has been delegated to regulators. As important, the change constrains Congress as much as it empowers it by making legislators more accountable for their actions.

Heritage Action key voted the REINS Act in each of the three previous Congresses because it is an important first step in increasing congressional accountability and reducing the regulatory burden on hardworking Americans.

Heritage Action supports H.R. 26 and will include it as a key vote on our legislative scorecard.

Heritage: Red Tape Rising 2016: Obama Regs Top $100 Billion Annually
Key Vote: “YES” on the REINS Act of 2011
Key Vote: “YES” on the REINS Act of 2013
Key Vote: “YES” on the REINS Act of 2015
Testimony: “REINS Act of 2013”: Promoting Jobs, Growth, and Competitiveness