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Cummings Opposes Bill to Create Costly New Commission to Repeal Safety and Other Regs

Jan 7, 2016
Press Release

Cummings Opposes Bill to Create Costly New Commission to Repeal Safety and Other Regs

 

Washington, D.C. (Jan. 7, 2016)—Yesterday, 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. 1155, the SCRUB Act of 2015.  This legislation would cost taxpayers $30 million to establish a new commission to review all agency rules to determine which should be repealed, and it would entrust this commission with extraordinary powers that could be subject to abuse.

“This bill attempts to reduce bureaucracy by creating a new commission that would cost taxpayers $30 million to do what agencies and Congress are already doing,” Cummings said on the House floor yesterday.  “The commission would have virtually unlimited authority to subpoena witnesses or documents,” Cummings added.  “This means that it could compel an individual to testify on any subject.  A schoolteacher could be compelled to testify about education rules, or a senior citizen could be compelled to testify about Medicare or Social Security rules.”

This legislation is opposed by the Coalition for Sensible Safeguards—an alliance of more than 150 labor, consumer, and environment organizations—and the American Sustainable Business Council—group of more than 200,000 businesses.

Ranking Member Cummings and Government Operations Subcommittee Ranking Member Gerry Connolly offered amendments to exempt independent agencies like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Consumer Product Safety Commission and to eliminate the provisions that would allow industry to challenge agency compliance in court. 

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

 

Statement of Ranking Member Elijah E. Cummings

H.R. 1155, SCRUB Act of 2015

January 6, 2015

 

Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to this legislation.                   

The SCRUB Act would establish a $30 million commission to duplicate work agencies are already supposed to be doing.  The bill would entrust this commission with extraordinary powers that could be subject to abuse.

This bill is opposed by Citizens for Sensible Safeguards, a coalition of more than 150 consumer, labor, and good government groups.  In addition, the Administration announced last night that  that if this bill were presented to the President, his advisors would recommend that he veto it.

President Obama has already issued two Executive Orders to eliminate unnecessary regulations. 

On January 18, 2011, President Obama issued Executive Order 13563 requiring each agency to implement plans for reviewing its existing rules.  It requires each agency to “periodically review its existing significant regulations to determine whether any such regulations should be modified, streamlined, expanded, or repealed.”

In addition, President Obama issued Executive Order 13610 on May 10, 2012, requiring agencies to report twice a year to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs on the status of their retrospective review efforts.

In November 2014, the Administrative Conference of the United States issued a report highlighting the impact of these mandated reviews.  The report concluded:

Implementing President Obama’s executive orders on retrospective review of regulations, agencies identified tens of billions of dollars of cost savings and tens of millions of hours of reduced paperwork and reporting requirements through modifications of existing regulations.

Congress also has the authority and the responsibility to conduct oversight to review existing agency rules and to recommend or mandate reforms. 

Yet, this bill attempts to reduce bureaucracy by creating a new commission that would cost taxpayers $30 million to do what agencies and Congress are already doing.

One of the most troubling aspects of this bill is the broad authority it would give the commission.  The commission would have virtually unlimited authority to subpoena witnesses or documents.  Specifically, section 101(c) of the bill states:

The Commission may issue subpoenas requiring the attendance and testimony of witnesses and the production of any evidence relating to the duties of the Commission.  The attendance of witnesses and the production of evidence may be required from any place within the United States at any designated place of hearing within the United States.

Most agency inspectors general do not have such broad authority to compel witness testimony, yet this unelected commission would have this authority. 

The commission would have jurisdiction over every existing regulation.  This means that it could compel an individual to testify on any subject.  A schoolteacher could be compelled to testify about education rules, or a senior citizen could be compelled to testify about Medicare or Social Security rules.

Three prominent law professors with the Center for Progressive Reform sent a letter opposing this bill last month.  That letter said:

 H.R. 1155 would create a convoluted, complex, and potentially very expensive new bureaucracy to review existing agency rules and make recommendations for the repeal or weakening of those rules with little meaningful oversight, transparency, or public accountability to ensure that these recommendations do not subvert the public interest.

This may be a well-intended bill, but it could have dangerous consequences.  I urge every Member to oppose it.  I reserve the balance of my time.

114th Congress