Republicans pass sweeping bill to reform ‘abusive’ U.S. regulation

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By Lisa Lambert | WASHINGTON

WASHINGTON Republicans on Wednesday passed a
bill in the House of Representatives that touched on nearly
every step U.S. agencies take in creating and applying new
rules, continuing their blitz to radically reform “abusive”
federal regulation of areas from the environment to the
workplace.

In a 238-183 vote, the House passed the “Regulatory
Accountability Act,” which combined eight bills aimed at
changing how the vast government bureaucracy runs. Only five
Democrats voted for it.

The legislation would give President-elect Donald Trump
tools “to wipe out abusive regulation,” said Bob Goodlatte, the
Judiciary Committee chairman who is among the many House leaders
calling for lighter regulation and saying the costs to comply
with federal rules are too high.

Republicans say there is little accountability for
regulations that apply to almost every aspect of American life
because they are created by appointed officials and not elected
representatives. Federal agencies operate either independently
or under the president’s authority.

The current reform push is part of Trump’s campaign promise
to “drain the swamp,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said
on Wednesday.

As House Republicans push for reform – last week they passed
bills requiring Congressional approval of major rules and giving
Congress power to kill dozens of recently enacted ones –
Democrats are fighting back.

Democrats have said the many extra procedures required by
the reform bills would stall agencies’ work, making it
impossible to create needed regulations on the environment,
financial markets and other areas. Democrats contend that
slowing down rulemaking is intended to help big businesses
escape oversight.

The accountability act would jeopardize the government’s
capability “to safeguard public health and safety, the
environment, workplace safety and consumer financial
protections,” the Judiciary Committee’s senior Democrat, John
Conyers, said before the vote.

“Worse yet, many of these new requirements are intended to
facilitate the ability of regulated entities – such as
well-funded corporate interests – to intervene and derail
regulatory protections they oppose,” Conyers said.

Specifically, the bill would require agencies to post more
detailed information on proposals for an extended period of
time, limit judge’s interpretations in legal challenges, and
require agencies to enact the lowest-cost version of a rule.

The House is expected to vote on Thursday on changes to the
Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures
Trading Commission, the major securities and derivatives
regulators.

Still, none of these bills may become law, as Democrats hold
enough seats in the Senate to filibuster.



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