What is the REINS Act?
Earlier this month, the House of Representatives passed the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act. The bill, which passed with a vote largely along party lines by 237-187, would require certain executive regulations to be approved by a joint session in Congress. Republicans see the bill as a necessary check on the executive branch, while Democrats dismiss it as a way to gut much-needed regulations.
Calling the legislation “groundbreaking,” Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) said the REINS Act will curb expensive regulations. “The outgoing Administration broke Constitutional restraints time and time again,” said Duncan, a co-sponsor of the bill. “Without passing the REINS Act, the boundaries for administrative rule making are endless.”
President Barack Obama used his executive authority to pass a historic number of regulations, much to the chagrin of the Republican-controlled Congress. President Donald Trump has promised to roll back a number of Obama’s executive actions, and it remains to be seen how he will use executive power. But if the REINS Act passes the Senate, it would hamstring Trump’s ability to unilaterally push regulations.
Trump has already indicated he will support the legislation. “I will sign the REINS Act should it reach my desk as President and more importantly I will work hard to get it passed,” he said last year. “The monstrosity that is the Federal Government with its pages and pages of rules and regulations has been a disaster for the American economy and job growth.”
The bill would require congressional approval for regulations that are deemed a “major rule” by the Office of Management and Budget. A “major rule” is a regulation that has costs $100 million or more, increases costs for consumers, and hurts U.S.-based companies in competition with foreign ones. A joint session in Congress would have 70 days to approve any proposed legislation by executive agencies.
Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said the REINS Act could “end rule-making as we know it.” Referring to the 2008 housing crises and recession, Conyers added: “Without question, it was the lack of regulatory controls that facilitated rampant predatory lending, which nearly destroyed our nation’s economy.”