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GOP: Fix red tape with more red tape

December 20, 2011

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As part of an effort to reduce red tape, the Republican-controlled House has passed legislation that would create additional burdensome steps in the rulemaking process.

The Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act (H.R. 10) would require numerous government agency rules to receive approval from Congress before going into effect. Given the long and complicated rulemaking process that already exists, more hoops for agencies to jump through isn’t really a solution to the problem.

To be fair, Republicans in support of the legislation aren’t very concerned about the red tape that government regulators have to go through, but seek to reduce the red tape employers have to deal with. It’s all part of the GOP’s stance that regulations destroy jobs and do far more harm than good – contrary to reports that suggest rulemakings do nothing of the sort.

Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), the minority whip, pointed this out in a statement, noting the REINS Act would “undermine” government’s ability to protect people from harmful conditions. “The REINS Act would undermine our ability to protect children from harmful toys, prevent asthma and lung ailments resulting from pollution, and ensure that our small businesses can compete fairly in the marketplace,” he said.

It would turn every major regulation into a political issue. Instead of regulators developing a rule based on science and facts, they would have to develop a rule based on how likely it will gain approval from a majority of the 535 Congress members – who, by and large, are not nearly as knowledgeable about the subject matter as the regulators.

And as the Center for American Progress, a Washington-based think tank, points out, Congress already has the power to overturn regulations through its use of the Congressional Review Act, as it did with OSHA’s short-lived Ergonomics Program Standard.

The REINS Act passed the House 241-184 on Dec. 7; only four House Democrats voted for the bill, making it unlikely to pass the Democrat-controlled Senate.

The opinions expressed in “Washington Wire” do not necessarily reflect those of the National Safety Council or affiliated local Chapters.

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