The McConnell-Boehner Congress has been pretty consistent in undermining consumer protections since it was gaveled into existence earlier this month. So far, lawmakers rapidly approved a bill to hamstring key regulatory agencies, did their darndest to roll back a key Dodd-Frank financial reform and approved the Keystone XL pipeline.
Next week, the corporate Congress will attack with renewed vigor the entire regulatory system – the one that helps keep our air safe to breathe, our water clean, our food safe to eat and our financial system secure. Lawmakers also will go after asbestos victims.
Here’s what we know about so far:
• The U.S. House of Representatives will vote as soon as Tuesday on the Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act of 2015 (H.R. 50), which would require federal agencies to alert businesses when they are considering drafting a rule and solicit their feedback – before the public even learns there may be a rule under consideration. Businesses could block even a hypothetical future rule, and the public would never be the wiser. Industry interests certainly don’t need special access to government regulators, but this bill would codify that access into law.
• Later in the week, the House will vote on the Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act (SBRFIA) (H.R. 527), a gift to big business masquerading as a small business bill. This measure would increase unnecessary and lengthy regulatory delays by adding a host of new analytical requirements for agency policy actions. These new requirements would only further paralyze rulemaking and make it nearly impossible for agencies to fulfill their mission of protecting the public and responding to emerging health, safety and environmental dangers.
• The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law holds a hearing at 1 p.m. Wednesday on H.R. 526, the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act (FACT Act). This bill would delay compensation for those suffering with lethal diseases like mesothelioma; paperwork requirements imposed on claims trusts would leave victims’ survivors struggling with medical and funeral expenses. The FACT Act also would add insult to injury by requiring victims to publicly disclose personal information.
For more information, read our statement