Ending the Reign of Regulators
By Rep. Kristi Noem
Expectations are high for the 115th Congress, which was sworn in the first week of January, but I’m optimistic that we’ve matched those expectations with an aggressive, commonsense agenda. More importantly, there has been no hesitation in getting to work on that agenda.
Less than 100 hours from the time I took the Oath of Office for the fourth time, the House of Representatives passed the REINS Act, a bill I cosponsored to stop the overreach of federal regulators.
Under the Obama administration, regulatory agencies have grown at a considerable rate. Their budgets alone have spiked 16 percent since 2008 while their staffs have increased in size by 13 percent. The impact of this expansion has rippled throughout our economy, crashing into each of our wallets like a tidal wave.
Almost 25 percent of a new home’s cost is due to regulatory bureaucracy, and by 2025, Obama-era vehicle standards are expected to raise the cost of a new car by almost $3,000. The prices of microwaves, light bulbs, air conditioners, and dishwashers have also gone up significantly because of federal regulators.
From a broader perspective, all these regulations drain much-needed resources from our economy. In 2015, regulations cost the American economy nearly $2 trillion in lost productivity and growth. To put it another way: if our regulatory system were a country, it would have the world’s ninth largest economy – right behind India.
For years, we have battled the Obama administration on the issue of red tape. After putting pressure on the Department of Labor, we were able to get them to back down from regulating small family farms. I also introduced legislation to prohibit the EPA from proposing or finalizing new farm dust standards, which helped prompt the agency to abandon efforts to further regulate the type of dust farmers and ranchers kicked up. And when OSHA proposed to ban kids from doing certain farm activities when they were hired to work on relatives’ farms, we pushed back and they backed down.
With proposals like the controversial “Waters of the U.S.” – or WOTUS – rule coming down, it is clear we need a stricter way to hold regulators accountable. That’s where the REINS Act comes into play.
If enacted, any regulation with an economic impact of over $100 million would have to be approved by Congress through an up-or-down vote. If this law would have been in effect under Obama, more than 500 regulations would have been subject to a vote in Congress.
More than two-thirds of the House, including me, has never had the opportunity to serve under a Republican president. I understand the expectations are high, but so are mine. While it’s just one checkmark on a long list of reforms I’d like to see made, passing the REINS Act in the opening hours of this new Congress gives me optimism for what we can accomplish.