Don’t be fooled by these harmless names

According to Politico, the buzz in D.C. is that the House is taking up three bills next week: The REINS Act, the Midnight Rules Relief Act, and a Resolution Disapproving of the U.N.’s Recent Israel Action.

I’m going to talk about the first two because, despite their harmless names, they’re two bills that could change the way Washington operates.

Let’s start with The REINS Act, or The Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act. It’s an effort to slow down the process of executive rule-making by requiring any proposed regulation costing more than $100 million be subject to Congressional approval.

Conservative lawmakers argue that it will eliminate burdensome regulations that stifle economic growth, but Congress already has the power to overturn Executive rules—it’s call the CRA. What this law would do would be far more radical than obstructed regulations. This is a fundamental rebalancing of power in government.

The economic costs of complying with executive regulations is often steep. Think, for example, of how much it costs businesses to cut their carbon emissions or pay their workers a fair wage. This gives Congress the opportunity to get rid of rules that cost businesses a lot, but protect people like you and me.

Consider what happens to bills that are subject to regular legislative processes already—they often die in the Senate because of partisan gridlock, or special interests lobby so hard to influence the vote that their agenda trumps public wellbeing.

Now, imagine if each “significant” rule had to be subject to this broken process. It’s frightening to think how few safeguards the American people would have and how little power the Executive would yield to protect us.

Moving right along to The Midnight Rules Relief Act, which would amend the CRA to allow Congress to bundle a bunch of rules in one single Resolution of Disapproval.(Quick reminder: The CRA allows Congress to eliminate certain executive rules with a simple majority).

Ordinarily, Congress would have to file one at a time and debate each rule on the floor individually. This is a time-consuming process and for good reason—once you eliminate a rule under the CRA, it’s gone forever. That’s why it’s only been used successfully once before.

Under the Midnight Rules Relief Act, they could eliminate more rules in less time without really having to prioritize which rule to overturn or justify why it should be eliminated. With a list of over 200 rules they want to target, it’s no wonder Senate Conservatives are looking for ways to get it done faster with fewer roadblocks.

Recognize a theme here? Republicans in Congress want more power, they want fewer regulations, and they want to bypass ordinary procedure to get them. 

It is likely that our representatives will be voting on these bills within the first couple days back from recess, meaning the first or second weeks of January. Write now, write fast, and write frequently!


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