Opinion

Regulatory Reform Is Essential To Separation Of Powers

The 115th Congress began last week when the House and Senate were sworn in to office. In just a few days President-elect Trump will take the oath of office, becoming the 45th President of the United States. There will be time for inaugural balls, celebrations, and parades. But I want to make sure that President-elect Trump is ready to get to work with Congress when he walks into the Oval Office for the first time on January 20th.

Since 2011, I have been fighting to reform federal agencies’ rulemaking authority. The regulatory powers executive agencies like EPA, Department of Labor, and Bureau of Land Management currently wield is an overreach at best, and a breach of the Constitutional separation of powers at worst.

Last year, we took considerable steps to block unnecessary regulations and executive actions by the Obama Administration. The House used its authority under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to formally disapprove of several regulations, including the EPA’s burdensome and costly Waters of the United States Rule, which I have been leading the fight to stop. Additionally, my bill to end unnecessary and duplicative pesticide permitting, which can hinder efforts to fight mosquito and pest-borne diseases like Zika virus, passed the House last year.

The House also used CRA authority to take on the Fiduciary Rule, which raises the barriers for entry on financial planning and makes it more difficult for middle and working class families trying to save for their future.

These efforts saw success in the House yet often died in the Senate. Even if legislation could make it through the Senate, it was often dead on arrival with President Obama’s veto. This should change after January 20th.

The effect of these regulations–higher prices for consumers, more barriers to growing a business and hiring more employees–is why reining in an out-of-control bureaucracy is one of the first things the House is addressing in the 115th Congress.

You can look through the more than 600 major regulations, those that will cost the economy $100 million or more, the Obama Administration wrote in the last eight years. This is not just regulatory overkill, which stifles economic growth and eliminates jobs. It is symbolic of the problem of a bloated bureaucracy: the regulatory state has become a hidden branch of the government writing de facto laws.

President Obama and federal agencies seem to have forgotten that Congress writes the laws, not the president. That’s why the next few years, with President Trump in the White House and Republican majorities in the House and Senate, will be critical to rescinding the major regulations with executive orders while also reforming the way executive agencies write and approve them.

With an estimated $2 trillion annual cost to the economy, the regulatory state desperately needs reformed.  The first step is the REINS Act, which the House passed last week. When a new rule can potentially have a $100 million negative impact on the economy, those elected to represent the people deserve to have final authority.  This gives Congress, not an unelected and unaccountable bureaucracy, the ability to approve or disapprove major regulations in an up or down vote.

Last week, the House also approved the Midnight Rules Relief Act, which gives Congress the ability to review regulations proposed during the final months of a presidential administration.  Obama appointees at executive agencies should not be able to push through massive regulations on their way out the door.  With the Midnight Rules Relief Act, the House and Senate will be able to wipe clean the slate of last-minute regulations pushed by an over-zealous bureaucracy.

Small business owners and people running non-profit organizations should not have to agonize over the maze of red tape and the alphabet soup of federal agencies. Consumers, especially those struggling to pay their utility bills or put food on the table for their families, should not have to worry about Washington regulations raising the price of their groceries. Finally, government bureaucrats should not be creating unnecessary, burdensome, ridiculous, costly regulations simply to justify their own jobs.

Congressman Bob Gibbs represents Ohio’s 7th congressional district in the United States House of Representatives.