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Cummings Opposes Legislation to Prioritize Corporate Profits Over Public Health and Safety

Feb 28, 2017
Press Release

Cummings Opposes Legislation to Prioritize Corporate Profits Over Public Health and Safety

 

Washington, D.C. (Feb. 28, 2017)—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. 998, the Searching for and Cutting Regulations that are Unnecessarily Burdensome Act of 2017, or SCRUB Act.

This legislation would establish a $30 million unelected commission with unlimited subpoena authority to duplicate work agencies are already supposed to be doing to review regulations. It would also establish “regulatory cut-go,” which would require agencies to offset the cost of any new rule by repealing an existing rule, prioritizes corporate profits over public health and safety and ignores the many benefits and protections that agency rules provide. 

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

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

 

 

 

Floor Statement

Ranking Member Elijah E. Cummings

 

H.R. 998, SCRUB Act of 2017

 

February 28, 2017

 

 

I rise in strong opposition to this legislation.  The SCRUB Act would establish a $30 million commission of unelected bureaucrats to duplicate work that agencies are already supposed to be doing.  The bill would focus on the costs of regulations while disregarding their benefits in protecting the most vulnerable populations in our country—like the children in Flint, Michigan.

 

If there is any doubt about this, one need look no further than the so-called cut-go provision in this bill.  That provision would require that when an agency makes a new rule, it must offset the costs of that new rule through the repeal of an existing rule. This applies even if the new rule is in response to an imminent health or safety threat. Agency compliance with this cut-go provision would also be subject to judicial review.  This would inevitably result in lengthy delays as both industry and non-profit groups routinely file challenges to agency decisions.

 

President Obama has already issued two Executive Orders to eliminate unnecessary regulations.  On January 18, 2011, he issued Executive Order 13563 requiring each agency to implement plans for reviewing existing rules.  That Executive Order 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 review efforts.

 

In November 2014, a report prepared for the Administrative Conference of the United States highlighted the impact of these mandated reviews, concluding:

 

            “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 has the authority and the responsibility to conduct oversight to review existing agency rules and to recommend or mandate reforms.  Yet, this bill would create a new commission that would cost taxpayers $30 million to do what agencies and Congress are already supposed to be doing. In addition, the commission’s report to Congress on the rules it recommends repealing would be subject to an up or down vote by Congress.  Congress would not be allowed to vote on each regulation individually, and this would usurp the authority of Congress.

 

One of the most troubling aspects of this bill is that it would entrust this unelected commission with extraordinary and virtually unlimited authority to subpoena witnesses or documents.  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.  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 extraordinary subpoena power is especially troubling because the Commission’s jurisdiction is limitless.  There is no restriction on what regulations the Commission can review.

 

Three prominent law professors with the Center for Progressive Reform sent a letter opposing an identical bill in the last Congress.  That letter said this proposal 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.”

 

In addition, Citizens for Sensible Safeguards, a coalition of more than 150 consumer, labor, and good government groups, also opposes this bill. This bill could have dangerous consequences for the health and safety of the American public. 

 

I strongly urge every Member to oppose it.  

115th Congress