Anti-Government Senator Introduces REINS Act

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act yesterday in the Senate. The bill, which would require Congressional approval of all major regulations, has already been introduced in the House and is expected to be a top priority for House leadership.

Under both Paul’s bill and the House bill, if one or both chambers vote down a regulation, or simply fail to act in time, the issuing agency cannot enforce the regulation or write a new one during the same Congress. The result will be an end to many crucial public protections and programs. The bill would affect the environment; workers; farmers; consumer safety; healthcare; Wall Street regulation; Medicare and Medicaid; Social Security; aid to needy families, the unemployed, and foreign countries; and even national defense.

This is not the first time Paul has gone public with his fringe views on regulation. When confronted with the realities that a lack of regulation contributed to the BP oil spill and the Upper Big Branch mine disaster – both of which were fatal and economically calamitous – Paul responded “accidents happen.” It’s clear that Paul is not concerned that his values are inconsistent with the majority of Americans, 52 percent of whom think most government regulations are necessary (see page 23), even in the current climate of government skepticism.

What’s really surprising is that Paul has managed to find 24 co-sponsors for the REINS Act, a radical bill that makes a mockery of the U.S. government. Two dozen U.S. Senators have such a limited understand of regulation that they threw their support behind the bill.

One of those senators is Rob Portman, a new member from Ohio and the former Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget. As OMB Director, Portman oversaw the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, so he should be well accustomed to the regulatory process and its implications – that many rules are beneficial for both businesses and society as a whole, can be a necessary precursor to the distribution of government subsidies or benefits, and can be vital to national safety and security. But apparently, Portman never bothered to brush up on that portion of his portfolio.

The Senate is unlikely to act on the REINS Act before the House does, but stay tuned for updates.

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