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Cummings Issues Statement on House Floor Opposing GOP Special-Interest Bill

Feb 4, 2015
Press Release

Cummings Issues Statement on House Floor

Opposing GOP Special-Interest Bill

 

Washington, D.C. (Feb. 4, 2015)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, spoke on the House floor in opposition  to H.R. 50, the Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act.

 

This legislation would require federal agencies to give private industries an advance review of draft rules before the public.  The bill would also allow regulated industries to abuse expanded judicial review and compromise the independence of independent regulatory agencies like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

 

The Coalition for Sensible Safeguards – an alliance of more than 150 good government, labor, scientific, faith, health, and community organizations – sent a strong letter to Chairman Chaffetz and Ranking Member Cummings opposing this legislation.

 

Below are Ranking Member Cummings’ remarks, as prepared for delivery, on the House floor today, and the video of his speech:

 

 

Statement of

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member

H.R. 50, Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act

February 4, 2015

 

 

“Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.  I rise in opposition to H.R. 50, the Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act. This legislation may be well intended, but it would have unintended consequences that would make the government less efficient and less effective. 

 

“I stood here just four months ago as the House—for the second time—considered a package of special interest bills including this one.  I said then that the Republican leadership in the House cannot fool the American people by passing the same bad bills over and over again. Yet, Mr. Chairman, here we go again.

 

“Yesterday, the House voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act for the 56th time.  Today, we are considering an anti-regulatory bill the House has considered three times before.  Tomorrow, we will consider another anti-regulatory bill the House has also passed before.

 

“H.R. 50, the bill we are considering today, would add red tape to the rulemaking process in an effort to slow down or halt agency rules. 

 

“One thing that is different this time around is that the Congressional Budget Office estimated that H.R. 50, as reported, would increase direct spending by $18 million over 10 years.  CBO estimates that this increase would primarily impact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

 

“The majority inserted a last minute provision last night after the Rules Committee meeting to address this problem. The majority’s fix, however, does nothing to reduce the cost of the bill.  The majority instead inserted language to cut CFPB’s budget by $36 million in fiscal year 2016. Cutting CFPB’s budget by $36 million while also requiring the agency to comply with significant new requirements is absurd. 

 

“On Saturday, the Huffington Post published an article titled, “Congress Revives Gingrich-Era Law to Thwart Obama.”  The article said, quote, “Republicans in Congress aim to revamp an anti-regulatory law from the Newt Gingrich era in an effort to paralyze new financial, environmental, and labor rules with a never ending string of court challenges.”

 

“The Unfunded Mandates Reform Act was enacted as part of Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America. Even in the context of the extreme agenda of the Contract with America, Congress included several limitations in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act.  This bill would repeal those limitations.

 

“For example, under this bill, agencies would be required to consult with regulated industries on proposed rules before they are even made public. For example, if the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau planned to propose a new rule to protect consumers from abusive mortgage practices, banks would get advance access to the rule—and the opportunity to shape it—before consumers.

 

“I believe that businesses should have the opportunity to provide comments on proposed rules.  But they should do it through the normal public comment process, just like other stakeholders.  H.R. 50 would also expand judicial review under the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act.  The statute currently prohibits courts from using its requirements to delay or invalidate a rule.  This bill eliminates that restriction, which would allow regulated industries to use the law to slow down rulemakings. This bill also would put independent agencies in jeopardy of political interference. The Unfunded Mandates Reform Act currently exempts independent agencies from its reporting requirements.  This bill removes that exemption. 

 

“That would mean that independent regulatory agencies, like the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, would have to submit their rules to the Office of Management and Budget for review, which could undermine their independence. Section 12 of the bill would require an agency to perform a retrospective review, including an additional cost-benefit analysis of any existing rule if requested by the chairman or ranking member of a committee.  I will offer an amendment at the appropriate time to strike that provision.

 

“These flaws are reason enough to oppose this bill.  The most important reason is that we rely on agency rulemakings to protect our children, protect our workers, and protect our economy.  That is why the Coalition for Sensible Safeguards—a group of more than 150 good government, labor, scientific, faith, health, and community organizations—sent a letter to the Oversight Committee opposing this bill.  Here is what that letter said, and I quote:

 

The costs of deregulation should be obvious by now:  the Wall Street economic collapse, various food and product safety recalls, and numerous disasters including the recent Dan River coal ash spill in North Carolina and the Freedom Industries chemical spill in West Virginia demonstrate the need for a regulatory system that protects the public, not corporate interests.  Congress should be moving forward to protect the public from harm, not rolling back the clock and weakening important safeguards.

 

“Yesterday, the White House issued a statement opposing this bill.  I urge my colleagues to vote no on H.R. 50. Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.”

114th Congress