Friday, July 26, 2013

Conyers: Judiciary Republicans Jeopardize Civil Rights Protections by Creating More Red Tape for Federal Agencies

(WASHINGTON) – Today, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee held a full committee markup of H.R. 1493, the "Sunshine for Regulatory Decrees and Settlements Act of 2013"; H.R. 2122, the "Regulatory Accountability Act of 2013"; H.R. 2542, the "Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Acts of 2013"; and H.R. 2641, the "Responsibly and Professionally Invigorating Development (RAPID) Act of 2013.” After his opening remarks, Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) issued the following statement:

“I am deeply disappointed that my Republican colleagues are squandering our limited legislative time to attack regulations that protect workers, and preserve the health, safety, and civil rights of all Americans,” said Conyers.

“Although the bills under consideration are damaging enough, I am disappointed that my colleague’s opposed an amendment by Rep. Steve Cohen which would have ensured that civil rights laws preventing discrimination based on race, religion, national origin, or any other protected category would be enforced effectively by federal agencies. This is very troubling to me.

“Specifically, absent Rep. Cohen’s amendment to safeguard civil rights, the ‘Sunshine for Regulatory Decrees and Settlements Act’ would greatly damage voting rights and other important constitutional protections. Under the Voting Rights Act, the Department of Justice routinely uses consent decrees in protecting the right to vote.  Similarly, the Department relies on consent decrees, such as with Section 14141 ‘pattern or practice’ violations of the law, to ensure that law enforcement agencies comply with the Constitution.   By enacting roadblocks to these protections, my Republican colleagues are seeking to turn the clock back on civil rights progress.

“All four of these bills would delay or completely derail the process by which federal agencies ensure that the American public is protected against everything from dirty air and water, to unsafe products and contaminated food, and even to reckless behavior by Wall Street banks. The four bills accomplish this unfortunate feat by bogging down all federal agencies with new bureaucratic requirements and hamstringing agencies from issuing new rules or from enforcing existing regulations. And, with the devastating across-the-board funding cuts to federal agencies being indiscriminately applied by sequestration, these bills would only further weigh down understaffed and underfunded regulatory bodies. This ‘starve-the-beast’ policy is cynical, and damaging to our communities and working families across the country.

“Civil rights, environmental, consumer, and worker protections should never become divisive, partisan issues. Rather than focus on this ideologically driven agenda, I urge my colleagues to abandon this approach and work in a bipartisan fashion to safeguard protections for all Americans.”

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