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Initial congressional attacks on health
Kathy Attar, MPH
January 5, 2017
The REINS Act and the Midnight Rule Relief Act recently introduced by Congress could block federal rules that save lives and improve the health of all of us. PSR made our opposition known by mobilizing our members against these extreme anti-health bills.
The REINS Act would require both houses of Congress to approve a major rule, with no alterations, within a 70-day window. If both chambers are unable to approve it, the rule would not take effect and would be held over until the next congressional period. This would allow congressional inertia to block clean air and clean water rules.
In any case, it's entirely unnecessary. Congress already has the final say when it comes to agency rulemaking: regulatory agencies can only take actions that have been designated by Congress in authorizing legislation.
The Midnight Rule Relief Act would amend the Congressional Review Act to allow disapproval of all regulations finalized near the end of a presidential term. The notion that regulations passed during the so-called "midnight" rulemaking period are rushed is simply untrue.
All of us suffer when health-protective rules are weakened, delayed or blocked. And children, low-income communities, communities of color, and people with chronic disease suffer most.
Congress should be ensuring that federal agencies enforce laws designed to protect our water, air quality and public health—not curbing the power of these agencies to carry out their mission.
Clean air and clean water regulations are soundly supported by the majority of people in the U.S. They know that their health relies on these critical environmental protections. Consider this recent polling data:
- 84% of Trump voters want the same amount or more federal regulations on drinking water.
- 78% of Trump voters want the same amount or more federal regulations on air pollution.
- 64% of Trump voters think the budget for environmental protection and preservation should be maintained or increased.
With a new Congress and a new Administration coming into office, these bills are just the first of the attacks to come. PSR feels strongly that we must work together to find solutions that will benefit everyone. Now more than ever we must take strong action to protect our health and safety.
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