House renews focus on curbing government regulations

AP News
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Posted: Jan 05, 2017 8:37 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Republican-led House on Thursday approved a bill that would require congressional approval before any major regulation can take effect, a reflection of GOP frustration with what they consider onerous rules from eight years of the Obama administration.

The House passed the measure overwhelmingly along party lines, 237-187. The vote is just one of several that GOP leaders are planning in the early days of the 115th Congress to overhaul how regulations are made and to repeal specific rules enacted during President Barack Obama's final months in office.

Supporters argued that excessive government regulations have led to higher prices for consumers, fewer jobs and slower economic growth. They said Congress should have more say before the regulations are enacted because lawmakers are directly accountable for their votes.

"It does not prohibit new major regulation. It simply establishes the principle, 'no major regulation without representation,'" said Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va.

Opponents countered that the U.S. already has many avenues for stopping onerous regulations, from the courts to public participation in the rulemaking process to new laws from Congress. They said the bill was designed to reward special interests rather than create jobs.

"This bill is just one additional tool for the wealthy and powerful to delay common-sense consumer protections," said Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass.

The legislation, dubbed the REINS Act, requires a regulation with an economic impact of more than $100 million annually to be approved by both chambers of Congress before it can take effect. Republicans also attached an amendment that requires agencies, when promulgating new rules, to repeal or amend existing rules to fully offset the economic costs.

The House also passed comparable legislation in the last congressional session, but it faltered in the Senate. GOP leaders are taking a renewed crack after President-elect Donald Trump offered his support during the campaign.

"This bill is the beginning of making America great again," said Rep. Keith Rothfus, R-Pa., borrowing Trump's catchphrase.

Democrats said government regulations generally provide much needed protections for American families.

"We need strong regulations that protect the safety of the food that we eat, and the air that we breathe, and the water that we drink," said Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga.