Checks and Balances

Submitted by kvaughn on Tue, 12/13/2011 - 01:00

We all learned in school that Congress makes the laws and then the executive branch implements those laws. However, over the years, Congress has increasingly abdicated its responsibility, allowing its transfer to the executive branch.

For example, the Clean Air Act does not define the standards for clean air; instead, it tasks the EPA to develop those standards through a rule-making process. As a result, the EPA unilaterally controls these standards with minimal oversight. EPA does not answer to the citizens in the same way that Congress does.

While there is logic in having experts propose the standards, there is also an inherent problem in allowing agencies to define their own rules. In particular, the subject matter of many of these standards is subjective, the experts within the agency do not represent a cross-section of the overall population, and accountability would be minimal.

It gets worse.

Since the EPA is a part of the executive branch, many of the appointed EPA administrators and the President himself can heavily influence the rules prior to final publication.

Congress recently voted on the REINS Act to address this problem. The bill would add an additional step to the current regulatory rule-making process. Every new rule would require the consent of Congress. A major rule, costing more than $100 million, would have to be approved before it would take effect. Any other new rule could take effect immediately, but Congress would be allowed to overrule the regulation. In both cases, a fixed timetable would ensure quick action. This additional check on executive power is absolutely necessary.

This common sense bill promotes stability, ensuring that some future President is unable to unilaterally roll back the environmental regulations to those of the 1960’s. But, because career politician Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) wants to protect the actions of the current President, he opposes this common-sense legislation.

He claims that it is the “most comprehensive radical assault on American safety and public health in the last century.” The fact is that this bill will prevent any radical assault on our regulations by either political party.

The challenges facing our country are real; we can only solve them if we elect leaders who will help unite our country to jointly overcome these challenges. Unfortunately, Congressman Connolly is more interested in divisive, fear-mongering attacks that divide the country along partisan lines.

In Liberty,
Ken Vaughn