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PRESS RELEASE: Heartland Institute Experts React to U.S. House Passing the REINS Act

January 13, 2017

"The REINS Act helps restore the proper balance of power by requiring Congress to approve all new major regulations, thereby increasing accountability and transparency in the federal regulatory process." - David Applegate

gavel and book

 

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed the “Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny” or REINS Act. The bill, now awaiting action in the U.S. Senate, requires Congress and the president to give final approval to any federal regulation that has a fiscal impact of $100 million or more.

The following statements from public policy experts at The Heartland Institute – a free-market think tank – may be used for attribution. For more comments, refer to the contact information below. To book a Heartland guest on your program, please contact Deputy Director of Communications Keely Drukala at media@heartland.org and 312/377-4000.


“Congressional passage of the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act of 2017 (H.R. 26) should bring good cheer to those who share Abraham Lincoln’s concern that government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from this earth.

“The U.S. Constitution’s Article I provides that the power to make law in this country belongs to the people acting through their legislatures, and Article IV, Section 4, guarantees to each state a republican form of government. Yet for far too long, Congress has delegated too much of its lawmaking power to executive branch agencies, the duty of which is merely to see that the laws Congress passes are faithfully executed. Acting under what is known as ‘Chevron’ deference, federal courts then largely defer to executive branch agencies’ interpretations of their own regulations.

“The REINS Act helps restore the proper balance of power by requiring Congress to approve all new major regulations, thereby increasing accountability and transparency in the federal regulatory process. Henceforth, executive branch agencies cannot promulgate major rules without Congress first adopting a ‘resolution of approval.’ The REINS Act is thus an important step, both in restoring the constitutional balance of power and in increasing accountability and improving transparency in Congress. Every freedom-loving American should welcome its passage.”

David L. Applegate
Policy Advisor, Legal Affairs
The Heartland Institute
media@heartland.org
312/377-4000


“The administrative state has grown in size and discretion for at least the past century, empowered today to perform the functions of all three constitutional branches. Its immense rule-making power has crowded out Congress and saddled American economic life with a burden that translates into billions of wasted hours and dollars. The REINS Act is a step, however small, in the right direction – that of a smaller government, properly constrained by the Constitution’s tripartite structure.

“If the United States is to be a country of laws, not men, then the powers of the federal government must be strictly limited. Today, the power of the regulatory state is not only completely arbitrary, but practically unlimited, bolstered by the improper deference of both Congress and the federal judiciary. The passage of the REINS Act signals the readiness of Congress to take back some of its constitutional lawmaking power, to return decision-making authority to the people’s representatives rather than the whims of unelected bureaucrats.”

David S. D’Amato
Policy Advisor, Legal Affairs
The Heartland Institute
d.s.damato@gmail.com
312/377-4000


“There is no bill better suited for cutting back on the scope and power of government than the REINS Act. The act gives Congress the power to limit the power of unelected bureaucrats while leaving federal agencies appropriate flexibility to implement new regulations. It is important to remember, the REINS Act does not prevent federal agencies from making new regulation, it is designed to ensure that any new rules with a major impact on the economy face scrutiny by elected officials, who are accountable to the voters. The REINS Act would be an ideal first step in shrinking the bloated bureaucracy in Washington.”

Matthew Glans
Senior Policy Analyst
The Heartland Institute
mglans@heartland.org
312/377-4000


“The reasoning behind the REINS Act is very simple: Expensive rules and regulations proposed by unelected bureaucrats and regulators should have to be approved by the body that acts as a proxy for the American people and is ultimately accountable to them. It gives the American people, who have to live with the consequences of these diktats, a check on those who promote them. With the House passing the REINS Act and the Senate beginning the process of chipping away at Obamacare, the new Congress seems to have hit the ground running, and lovers of liberty should be excited by that.”

Tim Benson
Policy Analyst
The Heartland Institute
tbenson@heartland.org
312/377-4000


“House passage of the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act is long overdue, but it still offers welcome relief for business owners and consumers. By requiring explicit congressional approval and a presidential signature before government agencies can enact costly new regulations, the REINS Act creates an effective check on an otherwise out-of-control and largely unaccountable bureaucracy.

“Putting policy-making power back in the hands of democratically elected representatives solves one of the greatest structural problems in modern government, and lawmakers in the Senate should take a cue from their colleague in the House and take law-making power back from desk jockeys in the administrative state.”

Jesse Hathaway
Managing Editor, Budget & Tax News
Research Fellow, The Heartland Institute
jhathaway@heartland.org
312/377-4000


“The REINS Act is a good start – an antidote to the disease of over-regulation that ails this economy. While some regulations may protect human health or the environment, many – especially in the area of energy and environmental policy – provide no or minimal measurable benefits while imposing huge costs on people and the economy. The rules are designed to expand the budgets and power over bureaucrats over peoples lives. They are ‘make work’ that create lifetime employment for agency staff. “Unfortunately, decades ago Congress found it easy to delegate its law-making power to executive agencies. Congress gets credit for passing vague, feel-good laws, leaving the hard details of writing the rules and enforcing the laws to administrative agencies. When agencies go overboard, members of Congress typically wash their hands of the affair, claiming they never intended this or that outcome, or that the agency went beyond what they intended. Yet Congress rarely blocks rules when they run past what the law actually allows. “Congress alone was designated the power to write laws, and it’s well past time it took that power back. By forcing Congress to actually approve any major regulation, agencies will have the incentive to consider what Congress will actually approve based on what the law says, not just impose what they can get away with. This, in itself, should rein in the most egregious attempts at illegal, burdensome, unjustified agency action.

“Personally, I don’t see why $100 million is the threshold for review. I think Congress should have to approve any regulation that imposes more than a $25 million impact on the economy, or more than a $5 million impact on any individual state.”

H. Sterling Burnett
Research Fellow, Environment & Energy Policy
The Heartland Institute
Managing Editor, Environment & Climate News
hburnett@heartland.org
312/377-4000

Author
David Applegate is a Chicago-based trial lawyer and partner at the law firm of Williams Montgomery & John Ltd.
media@heartland.org
Author
David S. D’Amato is on the Board of Policy Advisors for the Heartland Institute.
d.s.damato@gmail.com @@dsdamato
Author
Matthew Glans joined the staff of The Heartland Institute in November 2007 as legislative specialist for insurance and finance. In 2012, Glans was named senior policy analyst.
mglans@heartland.org @HeartlandGR
Author
Tim Benson joined The Heartland Institute in September 2015 as a policy analyst in the Government Relations Department.
TBenson@heartland.org @BenceAthwart
Author
Jesse Hathaway is the managing editor of Budget & Tax News, a publication of The Heartland Institute.
jhathaway@heartland.org @JesseinOH
Author
H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D. is a Heartland senior fellow on environmental policy and the managing editor of Environment & Climate News.
hsburnett@heartland.org

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