Last week the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would effectively block standard-setting for every environmental, public health, consumer protection, labor standards, occupational safety and civil rights law. No major regulation could take effect under the REINS Act unless it is approved by both houses of Congress within a limited period of time.
What’s more, Congress doesn’t even need to vote on a new regulation. All they have to do is to take no action whatsoever for 70 days after which time the new regulation is automatically neutered. No need for congressional representatives to reveal to constituents their position on the issues at hand.
Any EPA action to weaken clean air protections or block action on climate change, for example, likely would trigger mandatory congressional review under the REINS Act. Congress simply may not want to go on record voting for Trump’s agenda and against these popular programs.
Congress recognizes that passing the bill may make it difficult for the Trump Administration to repeal regulations. So the bill provides for a one year delay for the bill to go into effect.
The current version of the REINS Act likely to pass in the House has one noteworthy difference than versions that passed the House previously: it delays the effective date by one year. One can easily speculate why. President-elect Donald Trump and his industry-friendly Cabinet nominees have promised to attack a range of environmental and public health protections, as well as other important safeguards.
On January 4, a number of public interest organizations wrote a joint letter to the House letting representatives know that they understand the nefariousness of the bill and urging them to vote against it. That letter provides a good summary of the key issues and can be found at the League of Women Voters website.
The bill must still be passed by the Senate. It’s time to write or call your Senator. And remind your fellow citizens that THIS IS NOT NORMAL.