Proposed Bill Would Rein in Regulatory Overreach

Published September 16, 2015

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill that would require congressional approval and a presidential signature before federal agencies can make significant regulatory rule changes.

The Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act (REINS) was introduced by Rep. Todd Young (R-IN) and passed by the House. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is introducing a companion bill in the Senate.

Under the proposed law, federal agencies could not implement any regulations with a projected economic impact of $100 million or more unless Congress explicitly approves the changes in legislation and the president signs the bill.

Reverses Current Process

REINS denies costly new regulations by default instead of approving them by default, says John Eick, Energy, Environment, and Agriculture Task Force director for the American Legislative Exchange Council.

“The REINS Act would require Congress and the president to proactively affirm major regulations that would have an economic impact of at least $100 million,” Eick said. “With the REINS Act, Congress would have to approve of a regulation before it could be imposed, as opposed to a [Congressional Review Act action], which only allows for Congress to disapprove of a regulation.”

Eick says existing limits on bureaucracy, such as the Congressional Review Act (CRA), have been ineffective.

“Congress has 60 days [under the current system] to pass a joint resolution to overrule a regulation, which then has to be approved by the president or later overridden in the case of a presidential veto,” Eick said. “If Congress does not act within 60 days of the new regulation being published, then it automatically goes into effect.”

Legislating by Fiat

Phil Kerpen, president of American Commitment, a nonprofit group dedicated to restoring and protecting the values of free markets, economic growth, and constitutionally limited government, says REINS will help Americans fight unaccountable government agencies’ de facto lawmaking.

“We have regulators who are effectively writing and executing their own laws,” Kerpen said. “The major policy decisions that affect every aspect of our economic lives are moving forward without consent of the people’s legitimately elected legislative branch. The REINS Act is a powerful remedy to restore the legislature to its legitimate role.”

Restoring Rule of Law

Kerpen says REINS would help restore the rule of law in the United States.

“We have a tool that can help us solve one of the basic structural problems destroying jobs and economic freedom,” Kerpen said. “As we work to restore the U.S. Constitution, the very best place to start is at the beginning, with Article I, Section 1.”

Mark Ramsey ([email protected]) writes from Houston, Texas.