Why the REINS Act Is Unconstitutional

by Bill Funk | February 14, 2017

The so-called Regulations from the Executive In Need of Scrutiny Act (REINS Act) has already passed the House this year, as it did in previous sessions. The current version, which amends the Congressional Review Act (CRA), differs somewhat from previous versions but still suffers from a fatal flaw – it is unconstitutional. 

The current REINS Act has three parts. One part essentially reflects the recent Executive Order on Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs, except that the REINS Act only requires repeal of one regulation for each regulation adopted, rather than the E.O.'s two-for-one requirement. Another part of the REINS Act continues the CRA, but only for non-major rules. The final part, the part that is unconstitutional, provides that no "major rule" – defined as a "significant regulatory action" requiring a cost/benefit analysis under Executive Order 12866 – shall take effect until Congress "approves" it by joint resolution. Like the CRA, the approval mechanism is fast-tracked to avoid filibusters and full-fledged debate. 

First, it is important to make clear what the REINS Act does not do, but which, if it did, would be constitutional, even if extremely bad policy. The REINS Act does not divest agencies of the statutory authority to issue any major rule, and it does not direct them to propose what would have been a major rule to Congress for possible enactment as a statute. Such a law would ...

In Discussion about Regulation on the NewsHour, Darrell Issa Gets Casual with the Truth

by Matthew Freeman | February 11, 2011
On last night’s PBS NewsHour, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, took a shot at CPR’s Sidney Shapiro, who was the lone witness that Committee Democrats were allowed to invite to testify at yesterday’s  hearing on the costs of regulation. Issa badly mischaracterized Shapiro’s testimony, saying: The minority chose a witness. Mr. Shapiro spoke on behalf of his views, which were, in a nutshell -- and he reiterated them -- that he sees no ...

CPR's Noah Sachs in New Republic on REINS

by Matthew Freeman | February 10, 2011
CPR Member Scholar Noah Sachs has a piece on The New Republic's website dismantling the GOP House majority's favority piece of anti-regulatory legislation, the REINS Act.  The proposal would block all regulations from taking effect unless they are specifically approved by both houses of Congress within 70 days of submission and then signed into effect by the President. He writes: Last year, [the Office of Management and Budget] concluded that the annual cost of major rules issued between FY 1999 and ...

CPR's Shapiro Testifies this Morning on Benefits of Regulation

by Matthew Freeman | February 10, 2011
This morning, CPR Member Scholar Sidney Shapiro will testify before Rep. Darrell Issa's House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on the economic value of regulation.  He'll be a lone voice on the roster of witnesses.  The hearing will have two panels of witnesses.  The first will feature five industry representatives, and the second will feature two representatives of right-wing think tanks (Heritage and Mercatus), one leader of a nonprofit that advocates for small businesses, and Shapiro.  That would be eight witnesses ...

The REINS Act: The Latest Conservative Plan to Gum Up the Regulatory Works

by Sidney Shapiro | January 14, 2011
Republican legislators have been scheming for years about ways that they can slow down, if not stop, needed health, safety and environmental regulations. But their latest effort, though creative, is perhaps their most ill-conceived. They’re calling it   “The REINS Act” (in the last Congress, H.R. 3765 sponsored by Rep. Geoff Davis (R-KY), S. 3826 sponsored by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC)), and, if adopted,  no new "economically significant" regulations would take effect unless affirmatively approved by Congress, by means of a joint congressional resolution of approval, ...

David Driesen Takes a Bite out of the REINS Act in Post-Standard Op-Ed

by Matthew Freeman | January 05, 2011
One of the top agenda items for the new Republican majority in the House of Representatives will be pressing an anti-regulatory bill they're calling the REINS Act. The bill would subject newly minted regulations protecting health, safety, the environment and more to a requirement that  Congress adopt resolutions of approval within 90 days of the date that the regulatory agency finishes its work.  It's a miserable idea for a number of reasons, many of which CPR Member Scholar David Driesen details ...

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