By Amit Narang, Re-posted from Public Citizen
Here are some of the headlines from the past few weeks: 34 million cars outfitted with dangerously defective airbags have been recalled; passenger trains and oil trains have derailed, putting commuters and communities at risk; nail salon workers are being exposed to dangerous conditions and abusive employers. What these stories have in common is a regulatory process that is too slow and too captured by industry to protect Americans. Instead of attacking regulations, Congress should be empaneling committees to investigate why regulations are so slow to be issued and so poorly enforced.
But now a group of U.S. senators led by U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) is calling for a new, permanent, bicameral committee to review and recommend eliminating federal safeguards. The proposed committee could delay rules under consideration for up to one year while it reviews them, provide recommendations for a process to automatically sunset rules and recommend final rules for repeal with a resolution of disapproval – all with subpoena power.
This is exactly the wrong solution at exactly the wrong time. The last thing Congress should be doing is creating more delays for new health, safety, consumer and environmental rules by holding up new rules and forcing agencies to move even slower. The breadth and scope of this committee is vast, encompassing everything from food safety to toy safety to protections from predatory lending and everything in between. The opportunities for mischief against commonsense and popular public protections are endless.
Amrit Narang is Regulatory Policy Advocate for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch Division