House Marks Up Absurd Public Protections Moratorium Bill

Later this morning, the House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hold a mark-up on the so-called "Regulatory Freeze for Jobs Act of 2012" (H.R. 4078), a farce of a bill that wrongly calls for a moratorium on public protections until the unemployment rate reaches six percent. This is the latest in a series of more than 190 attacks on regulatory safeguards in the House since the beginning of 2011.

Congress should focus its attention on unemployment, but it should be addressing the real causes of the problem and working to encourage job creation in America, not repeating tired, misleading assertions of relationships that don’t exist.

In fact, standards strengthen the economy and public protections make our country stronger and safer. Regulations:

  • Make our food safer
  • Make our air safer to breathe, saving hundreds of thousands of lives annually
  • Make our water safer to drink and lakes and rivers safe for swimming and fishing
  • Protect children’s brain development (by taking lead out of gasoline and paint)
  • Empower disabled Americans by giving them improved access to public facilities and workplace opportunities
  • Save the lives of thousands of drivers and workers every year

The scope of this latest anti-public protections bill would lead to unintended consequences that most Americans find absurd:

  • The start of bird hunting season would be delayed or even blocked, ensnared by the Regulatory Freeze Act, since the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determines the appropriate bird hunting season for each state.
  • American soldiers who have given years of their lives in extended tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan would discover their stop-loss pay significantly delayed by the Regulatory Freeze Act.
  • The Regulatory Freeze Act would block new rules from the Department of Labor that would ensure our servicemen and women are treated fairly under the Family and Medical Leave Act.
  • New Medicare payment schedules for doctors, hospitals, and home health workers would be killed off if no rules were allowed to be developed.

Beyond the actual harm this bill would cause, the Regulatory Freeze Act sends a larger message that underscores its absurdity. Simply put, the House bill tells agencies, “Don’t enforce the laws that we pass.” If the House passes this moratorium bill, it essentially sabotages legislation that has already been passed by forbidding executive branch agencies from making the rules that implement that legislation. It’s a “through the looking glass” moment that would be laughable if it didn't put the lives, health, and financial security of millions of Americans at risk.

UPDATE: The House Judiciary Committee approved the bill in a 15-13 vote. The legislation could move to the House floor in just a few weeks.

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