Shock and awe

The Republican blitzkrieg is underway

No need for our new leader to take office before sending in the bombers.

Freed from the constraint of a presidential veto, Republicans are moving rapidly on industry-backed legislation that could paralyze the government’s ability to protect the environment, public health and virtually everything else federal agencies regulate.

The San Francisco Chronicle, in a front page story today, details an “onslaught” of Congressional legislation that would essentially gut the Food and Drug Act, the Clean Air Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act and others dating back to the Nixon administration. While most of the media was paying attention to the back-and-forth on confirmation hearings and ethics controversies, the Republican-controlled Congress is quietly working on bills requiring Congress to approve, or reapprove specific regulations costing industry more than $100 million to implement.

“As a practical matter, the Republican bills would shift regulatory power from executive branch agencies bound by scientific and legal protocols to the political realm of Congress,” Chronicle reporter Carolyn Lochhead notes. Other consumer protection-killing legislation on deck has one allowing Congress to overturn “in one giant batch — all the regulations made final since May by the Obama administration.” Another “would add dozens of hurdles to the regulatory process, potentially grinding all future rule-making by federal agencies to a halt.”

The New Yorker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Elizabeth Kolbert picks up the story, observing “in normal times, such a power grab by Congress would surely face a veto threat from the President, but, of course, these are not normal times.” She cites research indicating much of the support for the legislation comes from “various lobbying organizations sponsored by the Koch brothers.”

“Tough to overstate is just how consequential the assault on regulation in the coming weeks could be,” Kolbert writes.

Seeing a pattern here.