The REINS of Power

Allen Tharp fm media

By Allen Tharp

While the Washington media distracts the public with a lion hunt and bogus global warming claims, there is another issue they wish to suppress: the coming fight over the REINS Act.

The House of Representatives has now passed the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act (H.R. 427) for the third straight congressional session. Previously it has died in the Senate. Now that the Senate is in Republican hands, it will very likely be passed and sent to the White House where it faces a veto threat.

According to the Competitive Enterprise Institute, federal regulations are estimated to cost the economy nearly two trillion dollars annually, a hidden tax, if you will. For instance when the EPA tightens air quality regulations, it does so with the stroke of the pen under the authority of the Clean Air Act. No congressional oversight is needed to tighten these regulations. However, the result of these changes is that cities that were in a status of “near non-attainment” in air quality are now forced into “non-attainment” status. The cost to local gas stations to comply is several thousand dollars per pump to install clumsy and cumbersome second stage vapor recovery systems. The EPA does not care that many of these service stations operate on a small margin of profit and such huge expenditures of capitol for compliance get passed on to the consumer which is John Q. Public.

The REINS Act will give Representatives in Congress the ability to vote on regulations with costly economic impacts of $100 million or more before a federal agency or department can impose them upon the backs of the American people. Basically, regulators will have to publish an economic impact statement for review by Office of Management and Budget before any regulation is published in the Federal Register. If the regulation crosses the threshold of a $100 million in economic impact, then that will trigger a simple up or down vote in the House to determine whether the regulation should be implemented.

According to the Congressional Research Service, the total federal rulemaking burden in the Federal Register encompasses somewhere between 2,500-4,500 new rules each year. It takes over 75,000 pages to print these rules. That might be good for paper mills, but that sector of the economy will always flourish as long as there is a federal bureaucracy. The rest of the economy is not quite so blessed.

Below is a graph that shows the voluminous growth in the size of the federal register. The only significant shrinkage was during the Reagan Administration when deregulation was used, to great success, as a stimulus to the economy.

Once a regulation is published it is very nearly impossible to remove it from the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). In a more ideal world, all regulations should have a sunset clause. In Texas, all state agencies have sunset clauses and must come under review periodically to determine if that agency should be abolished.  This type of sunset legislation should be adopted at the federal level to keep the federal government operating only within the delineated constitutional boundaries.


The reason the Washington Media does not want this story covered, is that the REINS Act makes too much sense, and if John Q. Public finds out that their Member of Congress did not support such a common sense law, they just might be mad enough to vote in the next election; or even worse join the TEA Party.

Now that the House of Representatives has passed the REINS Act, it moves over to the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, (R-KY) has not yet said whether the Senate would take up its version of the REINS Act (S. 226), introduced by the junior senator from his state, Rand Paul, or stick with the House version.

If the President vetoes the final version, the veto will likely stand since the House passed the Bill 47 votes shy of the two-thirds majority needed to override the veto. So business as usual will likely continue until the next election.

The objective of the TEA Party in 2016 will be to support candidates that advocate reining in government. Common sense legislation like the REINS Act and sunset clauses for legislation and agencies are the only ways to reverse the trend of an ever more burdensome government form becoming unsustainable.

Allen Tharp is president of the San Antonio Tea Party, the oldest active Tea Party in America.

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