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Congressman Bobby Scott

Representing the 3rd District of Virginia

REGULATORY ACCOUNTABILITY ACT OF 2017

January 11, 2017
Floor Statements

Mr. SCOTT of Virginia. Mr. Chairman, I thank my friend for yielding.

   Mr. Chairman, over the past 2 weeks, the majority has considered three bills on the House floor designed to undermine the ability of the executive branch to implement essential economic and public health protections for the people we have the honor to represent: the so-called Midnight Rules Relief Act, which could retroactively disallow rules issued as far back as June of last year; the REINS Act, which requires a majority vote of both Houses of Congress before any major rule can go into effect; and today's Regulatory Accountability Act, which is an 82-page omnibus bill which would effectively tie the executive branch into so much red tape that environmental, workplace, and consumer protections might never see the light of day.

   By enacting these statutes, Congress would impair the constitutional duty of the executive branch to ``take care that laws be faithfully executed'' and replace them with a series of layers that can be applied by deep-pocketed special interests, including one provision that prevents some rules from going into effect that may affect public safety if somebody files a lawsuit.

   The question is: Who loses when these playing fields are tilted this way? Well, just a couple within the jurisdiction of the Committee on Education and Labor, 4.2 million working people would lose. That is the number of people who would be eligible for overtime pay as a result of the responsible actions taken by the Obama administration. They would lose the benefit of overtime for time worked in excess of 40 hours a week. Working families and seniors could lose their retirement savings.

   Last year, the Obama administration released a fiduciary rule that ensures that retirement savings are protected from financial advisers who may prioritize fees over services. Without the rule, working families and seniors could lose billions of dollars every year in retirement savings by being unnecessarily charged by unscrupulous financial advisers.

   Students in low-income school districts could lose. Without the Department of Education's new supplement-not-supplant rule, these students would lose critical resources, and those resources would be redirected to wealthier districts.

   So let's be clear. The bill before us is not on the side of children, workers, and retirees. Instead, the bill throws sand in the gears of the regulatory process by adding more layers to the process, rigging it in favor of powerful corporate interests, and encouraging frivolous lawsuits. That is not what Congress should be focusing on. Instead, we should be building on the progress that has been achieved over the last 8 years. We should be considering legislation that increases wages, improves the lives of working families, increases access to high quality child care and early childhood education, supports quality public schools in every neighborhood, makes colleges more affordable, helps American families balance work and family life, and empowers workers to organize and collectively bargain.

   That has been the focus of my Democratic colleagues on the Education and the Workforce Committee, and that focus will remain in the years ahead. So I urge the majority to partner with us to protect and promote the rights of working people and students by defeating this bill.