Thursday, January 12, 2017

CONYERS Floor Statement In Opposition To The So-Called "Regulatory Accountability Act 2017


I rise in strong opposition to H.R. 5, the “Regulatory Accountability Act.”
Under the guise of improving the regulatory process, H.R. 5 will, in truth, undermine that process and jeopardize the ability of government agencies to safeguard public health and safety, the environment, workplace safety, and consumer financial protections. 

The ways in which this legislation accomplishes this result are almost too numerous to list here, but I will mention a few. 

For example, title I of the bill would impose more than 70 new analytical requirements that will add years to the rulemaking process. 

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. 

And, it would function as a “super mandate,” overriding critical laws that Congress specifically intended to prohibit agencies from considering costs when American lives are at stake. 

Additionally, the bill creates numerous procedural hurdles in the rulemaking process, further endangering American lives through years of delay and increasing the likelihood of regulatory capture. 

For example, H.R. 5 dramatically expands the use of formal rulemaking, a time- and resource-intensive process, requiring formal trial-like hearings for certain rules.

Formal rulemaking has long been roundly rejected for good cause as being excessively costly and ill-suited for complex policy issues. 

The Administrative Section of the American Bar Association noted that “these provisions run directly contrary to a virtual consensus in the administrative law community that the Administrative Procedure Act formal rulemaking procedure is obsolete.” 

I am also concerned that H.R. 5 would impose an arbitrary one-size-fits-all 6-month delay on virtually every new rule.

Specifically, title V of the bill will prohibit agency rules from becoming effective until the information required by the bill has been available online for 6 months, with only limited exception. 

Clearly, H.R. 5 fails to take into account a vast array of time-sensitive rules ranging from the mundane -- such as the frequent U.S. Coast Guard bridge closings regulations -- to those that protect public health and safety, such as forthcoming updates to the Lead and Copper Rule by the Environmental Protection Agency to reduce lead in public drinking water.

Finally, title II of H.R. 5 would eliminate judicial deference to agencies and require federal courts to review all agency rulemakings and interpretations of statutes on a de novo basis.

The unfortunate result of this requirement is that the bill would empower a generalist court to override the determinations of agency experts, regardless of the judge’s technical knowledge and understanding of the underlying subject matter.

By eliminating any deference to agencies, H.R. 5 would force agencies to adopt even moredetailed factual records and explanations, which would further delay the finalization of critical life-saving regulatory protections.

The Supreme Court has recognized that federal courts simply lack the subject-matter expertise of agencies, are politically unaccountable, and should not engage in making substantive determinations from the bench.

It is ironic that those who have long decried “judicial activism” now support facilitating a greater role for the judiciary in agency rulemaking.

These are just a few of the many serious concerns presented by H.R. 5 and, accordingly, I urge my colleagues to oppose this dangerous legislation and I reserve the balance of my time.


I oppose H.R. 5 because it is based on the faulty premise that environmental and public safety protections kill jobs, result in economically stifling costs, and promote uncertainty.

This bill would not create a single job.  During the series of hearings and markups held on this anti-regulatory legislation in previous congresses, not one shred of evidence emerged indicating that this bill would create jobs.

To the contrary, the Majority’s own witness, Christopher DeMuth, appearing on behalf of the conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute, debunked this argument, stating that focusing on jobs “can lead to confusion in regulatory debates” and that the employment effects of regulatory protections “are indeterminate.”

In sharp contrast to the misguided approach of H.R. 5, regulatory protections that ensure the safety of American-made products unquestionably foster job creation and protect the competitiveness of our businesses in the global marketplace. 

This explains why more than 150 organizations strongly oppose this dangerous legislation, including:
·                     Americans for Financial Reform
·                     The American Lung Association
·                     Consumers Union
·                     The Humane Society of the United States
·                     The League of Conservation Voters
·                     Public Citizen
·                     The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees
·                     Earthjustice
·                     The Coalition for Sensible Safeguards
·                     The American Public Health Association
·                     The Environmental Defense Action Fund
·                     The Center for American Progress, and
·                     The Trust for America’s Health.

The American people deserve better than H.R. 5. 

We need legislation that creates middle class financial security and opportunity.
We need sensible regulations that protect American families from economic ruin and that bring predatory financial practices to an end.

We need workplace safety protections that ensure hardworking Americans who go to work each day without having to risk their lives as a result of hazardous work environments.

Unfortunately, H.R. 5 does nothing to advance any of these critical goals. 

I must therefore oppose H.R. 5 and I yield back the balance of my time.

Voting is beautiful, be beautiful ~ vote.©

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