Senate Republicans Want A Moratorium On New Regulation

The ugly news out this morning is that the economy has grown at just an anemic 1.3% rate. With the nation still very much in the grips of a recession – whether it’s technically defined as one by the economists or not – a group of Senate Republicans are looking to halt the growth of federal regulation.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and 20 Senate Republicans offered legislation Thursday that would ban economically significant regulations until the unemployment rate falls to 7.7 percent.

“With unemployment at 9.2 percent, and employers nationwide fearful about the Obama agenda, regulators should take a pause,” Johnson said, citing an Environmental Protection Agency regulation on industrial boilers. “There’s no reason for the EPA to go forward with such a costly new rule when the economy is in terrible shape. My legislation gives workers and employers a break.”

The 7.7 percent target for unemployment is based on the 7.8 percent rate in the U.S. when President Obama took office. Johnson argues that because the rate has always been higher than that initial rate under Obama, substantive regulations should be banned until it gets under that level.

“According to the White House, we’re now into the third year of the Obama ‘recovery,’ ” Johnson said. “But job growth is anemic, and companies are still laying off workers. You would think that Washington would be focused on job creation. Instead, the White House is intent on adding new layers of job-killing regulation.”

There’s a list of co-sponsors for the legislation at the link. North Dakotans will note that Senator John Hoeven isn’t among them.

This is a good idea, though too temporary. A better long-term solution is the REINS Act introduced by Senator Rand Paul (North Dakotans will note that Rep. Rick Berg is a supporter but Senator John Hoeven isn’t listed) which would require that any new rule-making with an economic impact of more than $100 million be approved by a stand-alone, up-or-down vote in Congress and signed into law by the President.

Article 1, Section 1 of the Constitution reads “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.” But in this modern era of politics we have the laws Congress makes, and then in addition to those the reams regulations that have the same effect as law created by regulatory agencies such as the EPA.

It seems to me that, whatever your stance on the issues, laws ought to be made by our elected officials and not unelected bureaucrats. For the sake of accountability and fidelity to the Constitution, if nothing else.

Rob Port

Rob Port is the editor of In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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