GOP Bill Would Increase Congressional Powers

LARRY MARGASAK | Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) – Congress would gain major new power over government regulations under legislation set for approval by the Republican-run House.

Republicans say the major shift in power, from unelected regulators to elected lawmakers, is needed to kill the most costly regulations – with an economic impact of more than $100 million. Republicans call those rules job killers.

Democrats contend Republicans would use the authority to jeopardize Americans' health care, workplace and food safety and protection from defective products, among other things.

Expected passage of the bill Wednesday would mark the second time in a week that Republicans took aim at regulators across the government. Republicans said the bill passed last week would force regulators to follow presidential directives that have been ignored. The GOP said directives not followed include seeking lower cost alternatives.

The bill, however, has little chance of passage in the Democratic-controlled Senate. In any event, the White House budget office has said senior presidential advisers would recommend a veto of either measure.

The Office of Management and Budget said the bill "would throw all major regulations into a months-long limbo." While Republicans insist the bill would help businesses by giving them cost savings to create jobs, the White House said the legislation would be "impeding business investment that is vital to economic growth."

The scheduled vote Wednesday is aimed at the most expensive proposals called "major rules" – those likely to cost or have an impact of more than $100 million. For instance, proposed environmental rules would usually fall into that category.

Currently, major rules take effect unless Congress passes, and the president signs, a joint resolution disapproving the proposals.

Under the Republican bill, if Congress doesn't approve a major rule within 70 session days, the rule could not take effect. All Republicans would have to do to kill a rule in the current Congress is fail to bring it up for a vote in the House, which they control.

Besides the $100 million economic impact figure, the bill would apply to proposals that could lead to a major increase in costs or prices; or those that potentially would have a significant adverse effect on competition, employment, investment, productivity, innovation or competitiveness.

The Coalition for Sensible Safeguards, an alliance of consumer, small business, labor, environmental and other groups, said the bill would:

  • Undermine the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act.
  • Delay consumer product safety rules affecting toys, cribs and thousands of other consumer products.
  • Make it more difficult for the Food and Drug Administration to ensure the safety of food and prescription drugs.
  • Delay rules for Americans with disabilities.
  • Endanger workers employed in mines, factories and other workplaces where on-the-job hazards exist.

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