Mobile Menu - OpenMobile Menu - Closed

Cummings Opposes GOP Bill that Jeopardizes Public Health and Safety

Jan 7, 2016
Press Release

Cummings Opposes GOP Bill that Jeopardizes Public Health and Safety

 

Washington, D.C. (Jan. 7, 2016)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, spoke on the House floor today, in opposition to H.R. 712, the Sunshine for Regulatory Decrees and Settlements Act of 2015.  This legislation would significantly delay the federal rulemaking process by which agencies ensure that Americans are protected from serious harms such as dirty air and water, unsafe products, and reckless behavior by large financial institutions.

“This legislation represents yet another attack by House Republicans on critical public health, safety, and environmental protections,” Cummings said on the House floor today.  “Title two, also known as the ALERT Act, is an attack on agency rulemaking that is inaccurately advertised as an effort to improve transparency. In fact, this bill explicitly prohibits the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs from taking into account benefits when providing estimated cumulative costs of proposed and final rules.  That’s not providing transparency, that’s providing one side of the story.”

“This bill would also prevent a rule from taking effect until certain information is posted online for at least six months,” Cummings added. “The only exceptions to this requirement would be if an agency exempts the rule from the notice and comment requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act, or if the President issues an Executive Order.  This is an unnecessary roadblock that jeopardizes public health and safety.” 

This legislation is opposed by the Coalition for Sensible Safeguards—an alliance of more than 150 labor, consumer, and environment organizations.

Ranking Member Cummings and Government Operations Subcommittee Ranking Member Gerry Connolly offered amendments that would remove the six month moratorium on rules imposed by this legislation and exempt independent agencies, like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Consumer Product Safety Commission, from the unnecessary, burdensome, and potentially dangerous provisions of this legislation.

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. 712, the “Sunshine for Regulatory Decrees and Settlements Act of 2015”

 

January 7, 2016

  

 

I rise in strong opposition to H.R. 712.

This legislation represents yet another attack by House Republicans on critical public health, safety, and environmental protections.  I oppose this unnecessary and potentially dangerous legislation in its entirety.  However, I will focus my remarks on title two of this bill, which is in the jurisdiction of the Oversight Committee.

Title two, also known as the ALERT Act, is an attack on agency rulemaking that is inaccurately advertised as an effort to improve transparency.  In fact, this bill explicitly prohibits the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs from taking into account benefits when providing estimated cumulative costs of proposed and final rules.  That’s not providing transparency, that’s providing one side of the story. 

The Coalition for Sensible Safeguards, which represents over 150 good government, labor, scientific, and health organizations, sent a letter opposing the ALERT Act when it was marked up in the Oversight Committee.  The letter states and I quote:

“The requirements of the ALERT Act, which would delay important public protections and waste scarce government resources, fail to provide needed transparency improvements in the regulatory review process.  Instead, the reporting requirements mandated under the ALERT Act would undermine transparency by generating cherry-picked data that seems calculated to provide a distorted picture of the U.S. regulatory system.”

This bill would also prevent a rule from taking effect until certain information is posted online for at least six months.  The only exceptions to this requirement would be if an agency exempts the rule from the notice and comment requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act, or if the President issues an Executive Order.  This is an unnecessary roadblock that jeopardizes public health and safety. 

One example of a rule that could be affected by this bill is the recently published ATF regulation that closes a loophole that allowed individuals to avoid required background checks when purchasing some of the most dangerous weapons through trusts or other legal entities. Under the bill, this rule could not take effect until certain information had been posted online by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs for six months.  That’s a six month delay in putting commonsense gun safety procedures in place.  Many of the disclosure requirements in this legislation are redundant. 

Agencies already publish regulatory plans twice a year.  This bill would require agencies to provide monthly updates to their regulatory plans. This is unnecessarily burdensome and would require agencies to divert already scarce resources to comply. 

I urge my colleagues to reject H.R. 712. I reserve the balance of my time.

114th Congress