The REINS Act


By: Guest Authors

By: John Hampton

The REINS Act would require Congress to approve any new “major” regulations issued by the Executive Branch of government, before they are enacted on the American people. A “major” regulation is defined as one that carries an annual cost of $100 million dollars or more. The REINS (Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny) Act (HR 10) was introduced in the House by Geoff Davis (R-KY). A similar bill (S 299) was introduced in the Senate by Rand Paul (R–KY).

Currently, when Congress passes a bill, it contains only general language. Specific language, as to how the new law will be enforced, is not included. The bill is then sent to the President. Once signed by the President, the bill goes to the appropriate regulatory agency (EPA, FDA, NRC, ATF, etc.). It is there that the regulations required to enforce the new law, are written.

As it is now, law makers have the ability to take credit for passing popular legislation, albeit vaguely written. If the eventual regulations are not so popular, law makers can, for the most part, avoid culpability. We as Americans, should blame the regulators if the final law is excessively intrusive or burdensome. Power and influence devoid of responsibility: this has been a common theme in our government for many years. At the end of the day, politicians know they will only be held to account for the most egregious acts. This is one of the reasons we need more specific policies in place, by which we can hold our elected officials accountable. The REINS Act should help in accomplishing this.

Among other things, opponents argue that The REINS Act would require a dysfunctional Congress to approve all new “major”regulations. There is no question that Congress is dysfunctional, but it is the only Congress we have. They should not be removed from the equation based solely on their dysfunctional nature. If Congressional involvement ceases after passage of the bill, there is no reason for them to be concerned about how the final regulations will affect their constituents. And if they are not concerned about their constituents, they should not be holding public office.

Opponents also claim there is simply not enough time for Congress to review all new “major” regulations, and that The REINS Act will greatly slow the pace of the regulatory process. By its own admission, the Obama Administration is preparing 200 regulations that will each affect the economy by $100 million dollars or more. Even without The REINS Act, would any group of politicians or regulators have the amount of time required to prudently review 200 regulations, each with a minimum fiscal impact of $100 million dollars?

And if there is not sufficient time for review, is that not the perfect reason why the process should be slowed down? The desire of government to regulate, as much and as fast as possible, continues to encroach on our freedom. This attitude of sign it now and read it later is unacceptable. No successful and responsible person or business operates in this manner.

Is The REINS Act unconstitutional? It complies with Article I Section I of The Constitution, as all legislative powers remain with Congress. But opponents argue that The REINS Act will impede the executive power given to the President by Article I Section II. Congress, as well as the President, must sign “major”regulations. If the President must first sign his approval, how is that impeding his exercise of executive power? The bottom line is that President Obama wants no road blocks, detours or delays of any kind on his drive to expand government, increase spending, redistribute wealth and regulate our lives in ways that are becoming more and more intrusive.

Is there a down side to legislation that promotes accountability among our politicians? Of course not. And if it slows down the Democrat assault on our freedom, so much the better! It is essential that there be checks and balances in place encouraging politicians to act ethically and honestly while representing their constituents. Without these checks and balances, politicians will simply be the servants of their highest contributing special interest groups. As voters, we must stay informed and keep mental notes, for we still have the power to remove ineffective and unqualified individuals from office.

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