There is a saying that what goes around comes around.
There is also the law of unintended consequences…what we hoped for in a plus b equals c, sometimes doesn’t work out that way.
These two realities, I believe, will prove to be the case with a well-intended bill called the REVIEW Act of 2016, H.R. 3438. This bill would delay final implementation of any regulation potentially costing $1 billion, until any lawsuit challenging change in the regulation has been resolved. The bill passed by a vote of 244 to 180, and I reluctantly voted against it. Here are a few reasons why I did so.
First, under the category of what goes around comes around, it was intended to stop government regulators from moving forward on new regulations that might be detrimental to some businesses. One lawsuit would be able to stop them cold. There is one problem with this, though; this administration only has a few months left. If Trump is elected president, he has promised to roll back many of the administration’s most egregious regulations…but guess what? Not that this legislation would make its way through the Senate, but if it did and it were signed into law by the President — it would take but one lawsuit…from anyone…to stop the new president from being able to do so.
I didn’t know more power to plaintiff’s attorneys was a good idea. I think there is a value to checks and balances in our system, and to stop a regulation, an elected official has the weight of the public, a judge with the weight of the law itself — but one person who hires a lawyer regardless of merit begins to strike me as light on balance. As an example, if Trump instituted a policy for stricter enforcement in the immigration realm, does it make sense if this could immediately be delayed by a simple lawsuit? On the eve of a new presidential election, the timing seems off on this measure.
Second, Congress needs to assert its authority…not hand it off to yet another branch of government. There is indeed a problem with the way that this administration has used regulatory edict to get around Congress and the law-making process, but the cure does not come in handing the authority to curb this to the judiciary. In this vein, an approach that does make sense is found in the REINS Act, which would have Congress stopping overgrown regulation.
Finally, not all regulation is bad. Some has value. What concerns all of us is the way that the regulatory body has become an unchecked fourth arm of government seemingly accountable to no one. You trim them by using Congress’s power of the purse…not by throwing the baby out with the bathwater and allowing any lawsuit to end change in regulation.
For these reasons, I voted as I did and in a way that I hope well represented folks at home on an issue that sounded good but, as I got into it, brought more harm than good on this front.