Friday, December 31, 2010

Limiting Regulatory Overreach

Curtis Coleman
Curtis Coleman, Contributing Author: Over the past several decades, the U.S. Congress has become increasing derelict in its responsibility to create the nation’s laws, abdicating its legislative responsibility to executive-branch agencies where unelected bureaucrats have and are creating laws by regulation, circumventing the Constitutional mandate for elected representatives of the people to create laws by legislation. No single phrase more succinctly captured this perilous capitulation of responsibility than Nancy Pelosi’s infamous “we have to pass it to see what’s in it.”

Not only must this Congressional dereliction be stopped, it has created a critical need for increased Congressional oversight of the bureaucracies to which its irresponsibility has given birth. As The New York Times recently reported, “Federal rule makers, long the neglected stepchildren of Washington bureaucrats, suddenly find themselves at the center of power as they scramble to work out details of hundreds of sweeping financial and health care regulations that will ultimately affect most Americans.”

Here are three bills which have been or will be introduced in the U.S. Senate (and correspondingly in the House) which can augment an important and effective first set of tools for overseeing and limiting the regulatory overreach of the federal government’s proliferating agencies and burgeoning bureaucracies.

On June 22, 2009 Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma) along with 17 co-sponsors introduced the Enumerated Powers Act (S. 1319). This bill will require that each Act of Congress contain a concise explanation of the specific constitutional authority relied upon for the enactment of each portion of that Act. The failure to comply with this section shall give rise to a point of order in either House of Congress.

On September 22, 2010 Senator Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina), chairman of the Senate Steering Committee, was joined by 12 other Senators to introduce the REINS (Regulations from the Executive In Need of Scrutiny) Act.  According to a news release from Sen. DeMint’s office, “This legislation is intended to restore accountability to the process by which federal agencies finalize major regulations by requiring congressional approval for major regulatory actions.” Congressman Geoff Davis (R-Kentucky) has already introduced similar legislation in the U.S. House, (H.R. 3765).

The REINS Act would require that every new major rule proposed by federal agencies be approved via joint resolution passed by both bodies in Congress and signed by the President before they can take effect. A “major rule” is any rule that the administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) finds may result in an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more; a major increase in costs or prices for consumers; or significant adverse effects on the economy.

Over the weekend of December 24th, Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi) told The Hill that he will be introducing the 10th Amendment Regulatory Reform Act , which mirrors a bill (H.R. 4946) previously introduced by Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) in the House.

“Wicker’s legislation is designed in response to the new healthcare legislation and the federal regulations that are tied with it,” reported The Hill. “Wicker said the new [healthcare] bill would create 159 ‘boards, commissions, bureaus, programs and offices of the federal government which could be reviewed and challenged on an expedited basis with this legislation.’

“With the legislation, state officials could challenge the constitutionality of proposed regulations and that agency would then have 15 days to certify that they are not violating the 10th Amendment. It would also speed up the court process on regulations challenged by states.”

These three bills represent critical “must pass” legislation on the road to the restoration of the federal government to principles of the Constitution. They also constitute compelling opportunities for American patriots to be proactive instead of reactive, to be for positive change instead of only against destructive attacks on the fabric of the Republic.
Curtis Coleman is the President of The Curtis Coleman Institute for Constitutional Policy and contributing author to the ARRA News Service.

Tags: 10th Amendment Regulatory Reform Act, Enumerated Powers Act, REINS Act, Constitutional Crisis, Curtis Coleman, Institute for Constitutional Policy To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to Conservative Voices. Thanks!

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