Stimulus, response: Bill limiting executive regulatory authority prompts immediate White House veto threat

posted at 8:01 pm on July 31, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

Over the decades, the federal regulatory state has grown while legislative control over those regulatory policies has declined, and back in 2010, the GOP came up with the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act as part of their red-tape reining Pledge to America. The REINS Act would make major regulations (defined as those with a calculated price tag of $100 million or more) contingent upon Congressional approval, and it’s been introduced in each of the past three Congresses but obviously never stood a chance in the Senate. The House is poised to vote once again on the bill on Friday, and the Obama White House would of course never allow for any such check on the executive authority through which they implement their economically disastrous and job-crushing policies. Dream on, suckers:

The White House threatened Wednesday to veto legislation requiring congressional approval of the most expensive regulations issued by federal agencies, saying the measure would undermine basic government functions.

The House is expected to vote as soon as Friday to approve the Regulations From the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act, which would require both chambers of Congress to sign off on regulations carrying an annual price tag of $100 million or more.

In a formal critique of the bill, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) said the bill, if passed, would reflect an unprecedented and unjustified power shift in Washington.

“This radical departure from the longstanding separation of powers between the Executive and Legislative branches would delay and, in many cases, thwart implementation of statutory mandates and execution of duly-enacted laws,” the OMB policy statement says.

Now, obviously, regulatory framework is one of the executive powers any administration largely uses to implement their policies, although I’m sure President Obama’s oh-so-loquacious rejoinder would run somewhere more along the lines of how nothing would ever get done if those spitefully obstructionist Republicans managed to gain yet another political weapon with the capability to sink their hyper-partisan claws into his rule-making powers. And, to play devil’s advocate for a moment: For one thing, it sounds like it might not be terribly effective; for instance, what’s to stop the administration from finding excuses to merely break things up into separate, less expensive mini-regulations (although, admittedly, that would probably be better for transparency’s sake)? For another, although I certainly can’t get behind all of them, the 43rd did issue a (much lesser) number of these major rules himself. While I would hope that no future Republican president would be in the habit of imposing hugely costly regulations on the regular, I can fathom a situation in which the tables might be turned.

The REINS Act’s opponents have argued that the whole idea could be unconstitutional, and it would definitely be a change-up from the traditional way of doing things… but for goodness’ sake, maybe we’re at the point where it’s warranted? For example, let’s leave aside for a moment the obvious billions and billions in economic opportunity costs the Obama administration has imposed via ObamaCare and the Environmental Protection Agency in his first term alone, and take a moment to look at the many onerous and arbitrary financial regulations being handed down through the auspices of the “Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act” (or, as I like to call it, the “Let’s Pretend That an Intrusively Huge Government and the Perverse Incentives It Created Played Absolutely No Role in the Financial Crisis and Instead Pretend We Are the Great Tamers of Those Greedy Financial Titans While We Issue Arbitrary and Capricious Rules that Benefit Our Own Brand of Crony Capitalism” Act. Long, but appropriate.).

The big Obama-nominee confirmation showdown from which the Senate recently emerged wasn’t so much about Republicans’ opposition to Richard Cordray personally, but rather to the entire newly-created office to which he was being appointed. The head of the Consumer Financial “Protection” Bureau has unprecedented and unilateral power over the financial sector, as the American Enterprise Institute explains in an excellent piece upon the occasion of the CFPB’s second birthday. This opaque and uncertainty-inducing behemoth is hugely damaging to our economic growth, and the Obama administration pretty much awarded itself the blanket authority to do whatever they want on the financial regulation front. At this stage in the game, perhaps it’s time to shift things back toward the checks-and-balances ideal a little?

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has now reached its second birthday. At two years old, it has clearly become just what many of us expected: an ambitious and ballooning bureaucracy, able to operate outside the normal checks and balances of our democratic government.

The opponents and proponents of the CFPB entirely agree on one thing: it was explicitly designed by its creators to evade the normal constraints of the American constitutional structure. Two years have taught us that the design has been remarkably successful in doing so. …

The CFPB is an offspring of the notorious Dodd-Frank Act, of which the best description is the “Faith in Bureaucracy Act.” For those sharing this faith, the CFPB’s design is a wonderful thing. It is a modern implementation of Woodrow Wilson’s dream of bureaucratic “experts,” who should not have to be bothered with irrelevant distractions like the elected representatives of the people.


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If the White House is so intent upon a veto, it must be a good bill for flyover country.

While they’re at it, could they zero out the White House’s budget completely?

turfmann on July 31, 2013 at 8:05 PM

The REINS Act’s opponents have argued that the whole idea could be unconstitutional

That’s a joke. Consider the fact that 99% of the Federal Governments regulations are already unconstitutional!

BierManVA on July 31, 2013 at 8:07 PM

GOP=Worthless meatbags.

Mr. Arrogant on July 31, 2013 at 8:10 PM

King Barack Obama: “Laws? We don’t need no stinking laws!”

GarandFan on July 31, 2013 at 8:15 PM

Well,unlike the GOP Threats,its perfectly fine and A-Okay for Hopey,
to pull off zee threats!!!

canopfor on July 31, 2013 at 8:15 PM

“thwart implementation of statutory mandates”

Yo, where did those statutory mandates come from, idjits?

I left you a hint.

Dusty on July 31, 2013 at 8:17 PM

Not passing a budget? That makes it needed.

wolly4321 on July 31, 2013 at 8:18 PM

As if it would even get a vote in the Senate…

ProfShadow on July 31, 2013 at 8:20 PM

The White House threatened Wednesday to veto legislation requiring congressional approval of the most expensive regulations issued by federal agencies, saying the measure would undermine basic government functions.

Checks and Balances is a basic and essential government function.

Odie1941 on July 31, 2013 at 8:20 PM

Obama is just trying to sound presidential, like a leader. He can’t bear any risk someone might steal his thunder, center stage, or the limelight.

Everyone knows Reid will never allow the bill to come before the Senate, let alone for a vote. So, Obama is simply posturing to get his ego fed by his fawning media.

Liam on July 31, 2013 at 8:23 PM

Make him veto it. Then hopefully pass a mirror image bill, and make him veto that.
Most transparent administration ever.

Mimzey on July 31, 2013 at 8:32 PM

Speaking of that compromise capitulation on that showdown, we now have the guy in charge of covering up Fast and Furious (and under investigation for retaliation against whistleblowers while US Attorney in Minnesota) confirmed as the head of the ATF.

<expletive deleted> you very much, McCain, Ayotte, Collins, Graham, Kirk and Murkowski, but especially Murkowski. I hope the pork that flipped your vote is tasty.

Steve Eggleston on July 31, 2013 at 8:34 PM

Bill limiting executive Barack Obama’s regulatory authority prompts immediate White House veto threat.

Erika Johnsen

.
Yeah … none of us saw that coming.

listens2glenn on July 31, 2013 at 8:35 PM

If he had to function in the manner of an actual grown up President, he couldn’t do it, and would be throwing things calling people names.
How did this doofus get elected…twice??

Mimzey on July 31, 2013 at 8:37 PM

I should mention that Kirk not only voted for cloture to make Byron Todd Jones permanent ATF director, he voted for the actual confirmation.

How’s electing that RINO working out for you, FIBs?

Steve Eggleston on July 31, 2013 at 8:37 PM

As if it would even get a vote in the Senate…

ProfShadow on July 31, 2013 at 8:20 PM

Be a Rat who punishes whistleblowers – you’ll get McShame and his merry band of turncoats to vote for cloture and you’ll get Kirk to vote for your actual confirmation.

Steve Eggleston on July 31, 2013 at 8:40 PM

“duly enacted laws”

Duly enacted by whom? The executive branch? The legislature can’t review regulations?

Then there becomes no need for the body whatsoever because they no longer are writing law.

They have been relegated to nothingness. The Judicial branch has too when truly duly enacted law can be ignored.

wolly4321 on July 31, 2013 at 8:41 PM

The House is poised to vote once again on the bill on Friday, and the Obama White House would of course never allow for any such check on the executive authority through which they implement their economically disastrous and job-crushing policies.

Whatever; even if it somehow became law, Obama would just ignore it.

Midas on July 31, 2013 at 8:45 PM

Make him veto it. Then hopefully pass a mirror image bill, and make him veto that.
Most transparent administration ever.

[Mimzey on July 31, 2013 at 8:32 PM]

I don’t think Obama needs to sweat that, though. The Senate would never put him in that awkward position by passing the bill.

It’s good to be hearing what the House efforts are and what it is passing, but I suspect it’s not being reported on anywhere that gives it wide public coverage. Action like this is pretty much censored by the LSM, so in effect it doesn’t happen. That could be changed somewhat if Cruz, Paul or Lee make note of it. Maybe if they were to pick a fight with Obama over it, it might a few hours in the news cycle.

Dusty on July 31, 2013 at 8:46 PM

My entire Presidential platform:

1. I pledge to rescind TEN presidential executive orders per day until I leave office, and will not add any more during that time.

Who’s voting for me?

fossten on July 31, 2013 at 8:51 PM

The REINS Act’s opponents have argued that the whole idea could be unconstitutional

How is that possible, Erika? It was Congress that created the bureaucracy and defined the mandates for those bureaucracies. If they choose to revise the mandates to include some thresholds and final approvals, how could that possibly be unconstitutional?

Dusty on July 31, 2013 at 8:52 PM

Whatever; even if it somehow became law, Obama would just ignore it.

Midas on July 31, 2013 at 8:45 PM

Exactly.

We’d be far better were the charade simply exposed by having Congress disbanded — by Imperial Fiat of course …

ShainS on July 31, 2013 at 8:55 PM

Who’s voting for me?

fossten on July 31, 2013 at 8:51 PM

Great point, but immaterial.

To the Leftard and LIV, the most important qualifications you possess for elected office are:
(1) your skin color; and
(2) your gender.

ShainS on July 31, 2013 at 8:59 PM

Dusty, it would be unconstitutional because Congress can’t set up a legislative veto – Chakra vs. INS is the case if memory serves.

Congress can say that the executive can write regulations X and Y. And it can say that the executive can write regulations X and Y under Z conditions. But what it can’t do is say that after the executive writes regulations, that Congress can come back and pass a resolution to approve or disapprove them.

Its because Congress powers involve passing legislation that is then signed or vetoed by the President. Congress can’t insert itself in the middle of executive action, nor can Congress act – except in very narrow ways specified in the Constitution – without Presidential signing or veto.

SPQR on July 31, 2013 at 8:59 PM

[fossten on July 31, 2013 at 8:51 PM]

My platform is Fossten’s plus two more executive orders per day.

Take that, you bacon-toting RINO.

Dusty on July 31, 2013 at 9:01 PM

The Constitution requiries a 2/3 majority vote in the House and the Senate to override a Presidential Veto.

2/3 would be 290 votes in the House and 67 votes in the Senate.

There are currently 234 Republicans in the House and 46 Republicans in the Senate.

If we want to take our country back and stop the damage that President Obama can do with his veto pen, we should be aiming high in the mid-term election to try to get Republicans as close to a 2/3 majority as possible in 2014.

Who is running for Congress in your District?

wren on July 31, 2013 at 9:01 PM

SPQR- please define the line where regulations cross over in to, and become law.

Legistlative veto is repealing the law. Or writing new law outlawing the regulation.

wolly4321 on July 31, 2013 at 9:10 PM

This is posturing by the Republicans. If they were really serious about it they’d attach it to the next debt-ceiling increase.

Steven Den Beste on July 31, 2013 at 9:13 PM

All we got is cutting off the money and shutting down the gubmint,, and they won’t do it.

Face the fact an enabling act that was never voted on is fully in place.

wolly4321 on July 31, 2013 at 9:24 PM

[SPQR on July 31, 2013 at 8:59 PM]

Thanks SPQR. It’s INS v Chadha and it’s very interesting. You are right that a unicameral legislative veto was ruled unconstitutional, and, though that particular case involved the veto by only one chamber of Congress, it appears SCOTUS also said it covered bicameral and committee, but it seems fuzzy on the bicameral. I’ll have to read something more detailed other than the Wiki.

I can see why there would be objection on constitutional grounds. Congress was attaching all sorts of different rules to legislation, from as little as an Oversight Committee veto, through one Chamber veto to full Congress with various voting thresholds, so the pendulum had swung back towards Congress running amok and the particular case was so insignificant — whether the INS should deport someone.

It seems to me there’s room for a re-argument on this, but I will now acknowledge the question of unconstitutionality exists.

Dusty on July 31, 2013 at 9:42 PM

Daniel Henninger has an excellent column on Obysmal’s authoritarianism in today’s online WSJ. The comments by readers are excellent, too.

The usurpation of power via executive agencies while ignoring the checks and balances of the legislative has to stop in its tracks. Gridlock is good to squelch this petty tyrant, this madman drunk on his assumed power.
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324136204578639953580480838.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEADTop

onlineanalyst on July 31, 2013 at 10:19 PM

Those of us in manufacturing need some relief. There are new targets being drawn up every day.

mad scientist on July 31, 2013 at 10:23 PM

I think we will soon reach a point where we all take a cue from our leader and simply ignore the laws and regulations we don’t like.

Ellis on July 31, 2013 at 10:52 PM

You know this is bullcrap. there is already a constitutional way to do this. It’s called the power of the purse. If congress doesn’t like a regulation defund the agency until the regulation is changed. Congress doesn’t need a new act or law they need a pair of balls.

unseen on August 1, 2013 at 3:02 AM

I think we will soon reach a point where we all take a cue from our leader and simply ignore the laws and regulations we don’t like.

Ellis on July 31, 2013 at 10:52 PM

I’ve been doing that for years. I’m sure one of these daysit will catch up to me but you know most police don’t know all the laws and/or regulations either.

unseen on August 1, 2013 at 3:03 AM

IMPEACH OBAMA !

TX-96 on August 1, 2013 at 6:06 AM