January 24, 2012 9:42 am ET
From the House Republican Conference and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donahue, congressional Republicans and their conservative allies have touted 27 measures passed by the House of Representatives that they claim are "bipartisan jobs bills awaiting Senate action." But the bills are mostly highly partisan attempts to slash regulations that protect, among other things, public health, consumer rights, workplace safety and the environment. The GOP has also dishonestly included in its count a few viable measures with popular bipartisan support; one of these is being held up in the Senate by a Republican, and the others have been placed on the Senate calendar.
H.R. 1633 Would Ensure That Nuisance Dust — Also Known As "Farm Dust" — Is Not Regulated By The EPA. According to GOP.gov:
H.R. 1633 would prohibit the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) from proposing, finalizing, implementing, or enforcing any regulation revising the National Ambient Air Quality Standard applicable to coarse particulate matter under the Clean Air Act for at least one year from the date of enactment.
The bill would amend the Clean Air Act (CAA) by exempting nuisance dust (i.e. farm dust) from references to "particulate matter." [GOP.gov, 12/8/11]
EPA Head Lisa Jackson: It's A "Myth" That EPA Wants To Regulate Farm Dust. According to KWCH News:
The EPA is trying to put to rest what it calls a "myth" that it is going to crack down on farm dust.
In letters to two senators last week, Administrator Lisa Jackson said that the agency won't expand its current air quality standards to include dust created by agriculture.
Republicans and some farm-state Democrats have used the issue on the campaign trail, arguing that the EPA is set to penalize farmers for everyday activities. Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain said in a recent debate that the agency is "out of control" and was preparing to regulate dust.
A statement released by the agency Monday said that "EPA hopes that this action finally puts an end to the myth that the agency is planning to expand regulations of farm dust." [KWCH, 10/18/11]
H.R. 1904 Would "Authorize A Land Exchange" To "Allow For Mineral Exploration." According to GOP.gov:
H.R. 1904 would authorize a land exchange which Congress finds to be in the public interest and in order to further certain public objectives, including: promoting job and other economic opportunities; facilitating development of a world class copper deposit; enhancing federal, state and local revenue collections; securing federal ownership of lands with important public values; assisting more efficient Federal land management; providing opportunity for community expansion; and protecting Apache Leap. [...]
The bill would allow for mineral exploration on or under the 760 acre Oak Flat Withdrawal Area, subject to certain limiting conditions and would provide that Resolution Copper will pay for all costs associated with the exchange that are agreed to by the Secretary.
H.R. 1904 would provide that the federal land conveyed to Resolution Copper will be available for mining and related activities in accordance with federal, state and local laws, rules and regulations applicable to mining on privately owned land. [GOP.gov, 10/25/11]
H.R. 1904 Has A "Blatant Loophole" That Would Delay "Any Environmental Impact Statement For Mining These Lands Until After The Land Exchange Is Completed." According to ThinkProgress:
The Resolution Copper Company, owned by the large multi-national mineral conglomerates Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton, is pushing a bill in Congress that would give them federal land in southeastern Arizona and allow mining of one of the largest known copper deposits in the world. In return, the company would give back a plot of land to the federal government. The Resolution Copper land-exchange bill has a blatant loophole, delaying any environmental impact statement for mining these lands until after the land exchange is completed.
That would mean that after the deal is done and the tailings pond leaks, like it did at the Clayton Silver Mine in Idaho, or after major fish kills, like the ones in the Alamosa River due to cyanide leaching from the Summitville gold mine in Colorado, we could say that the too-late environmental analysis revealed a threat. That's not the point of our environmental laws, which recognize that the value of clean air and water needs to be considered before the government sells off public resources to private interests. [ThinkProgress, 6/16/11, emphasis added]
H.R. 2273 Would Leave Regulation And Enforcement Of EPA Coal Ash Standards "To The States." According to GOP.gov:
H.R. 2273 would utilize the framework and requirements of an existing federal regulatory program developed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Solid Waste Disposal Act (RCRA) as the basis for enforceable minimum federal standards for the regulation of a waste stream known as coal ash. The bill would include enforceable federal standards, but would leave regulation and enforcement to the states.
H.R. 2273 would facilitate the recovery of coal combustion residuals (coal ash) by creating a state-based permit program. The bill would allow all states to be more stringent than the federal minimum in the bill. [GOP.gov, 10/14/11]
White House: H.R. 2273 "Undermines The Federal Government's Ability To Ensure That Requirements For Management And Disposal Of Coal Combustion Residuals Are Protective Of Human Health And The Environment." According to an OMB Statement of Administration Policy:
The Administration opposes H.R. 2273, as reported by Committee, which is insufficient to address the risks associated with coal ash disposal and management, and undermines the Federal government's ability to ensure that requirements for management and disposal of coal combustion residuals are protective of human health and the environment.
The 2008 failure of a coal ash impoundment in Kingston, Tennessee, which spilled more than five million cubic yards of coal ash and will require approximately $1.2 billion for clean-up, is a stark reminder of the need for safe disposal and management of coal ash to protect public health and the environment. The Administration has assessed structural stability at active coal ash impoundments and has identified 49 units in 12 states as having a "high hazard potential" rating should they fail. [WhiteHouse.gov, 10/12/11]
A Component Of Coal Ash, Chromium, Is Known By The EPA To Cause Cancer. According to a report by Earth Justice:
It has long been known that chromium readily leaches from coal ash. Chromium, however, occurs primarily in two forms: trivalent chromium, which is an essential nutrient in small amounts, and hexavalent chromium, Cr(IV), which is highly toxic even in small doses. In EPA's latest report on the hazardous contaminants in coal ash, the agency made two important findings:
- Coal ash leaches chromium in amounts that can greatly exceed EPA's threshold for hazardous waste at 5000 parts per billion (ppb), and
- The chromium that leaches from coal ash is "nearly 100 percent [hexavalent] Cr(VI)." [...]
According to EPA's 2010 draft toxicological review of hexavalent chromium, EPA agrees with the estimate of cancer potency used by California's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment. California's Draft Public Health Goal and the U.S. EPA Draft Toxicological Review of Hexavalent Chromium13 both use the same cancer potency value for ingested hexavalent chromium of 0.5 (mg/kg-d). Using EPA's default assumptions for body weight and drinking water ingestion rate, it is possible to estimate the lifetime cancer risk associated with drinking water at the current federal drinking water standard for total chromium of 100 ppb (established in 1991) — the risk is 1.4 in 1,000 people. This risk is 140 - 1400 times greater than EPA's range of acceptable cancer risk (between1 in 100,000 and 1 in 1,000,000 people). Clearly, in view of this elevated risk recognized by both EPA and OEHHA, the 1991 federal drinking water standard of 100 ppb for total chromium is not sufficiently protective of human health from ingestion of hexavalent chromium. While a new federal drinking water standard for hexavalent chromium may be higher than California's proposed goal of 0.02 ppb, this health-protective level, as well as the current federal standard, are used as a comparison to coal ash-contaminated waters in this report. [Earth Justice, 2/1/11]
Implementing — Not Preventing — Coal Ash Regulations Would "Result In A Net Gain Of 28,000 Jobs." According to the Stockholm Environment Institute:
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is considering regulation to protect the public from the health hazards of coal ash disposal. In response, an industry group has claimed that strict regulation of ash disposal could lead to the loss of more than 300,000 jobs.
This analysis shows fundamental flaws in that claim — most notably, that it provides no explanation for more than 50,000 of the supposedly lost jobs, and that the majority of the claimed job loss, said to be the result of a 1-percent increase in electricity prices, is based on misuse of an estimate in an unpublished academic paper.
The author also presents a new analysis of employment effects, based on an industry estimate of the costs of regulation that is much higher than the EPA's cost calculation, and the well-known IMPLAN model of the U.S. economy.
The analysis shows that new spending required for compliance with strict regulation of coal ash, including expenditures for waste management, wastewater treatment, and construction and operation of facilities and equipment, combined with the effects of the resulting electricity rate increases, would result in a net gain of 28,000 jobs. [Stockholm Environment Institute, October 2011]
H.R. 2681 Would "Provide A Legislative Stay Of Three" EPA Standards Known As "Cement MACT Rules." According to GOP.gov:
H.R. 2681 would provide a legislative stay of three Environmental Protection Agency emissions standards that apply to cement manufacturing plants. These rules have been referred to as the "Cement MACT rules." [...]
The bill would prevent these rules from being implemented and require the EPA to promulgate, 15 months from the date of enactment, new regulations that:
1. Establish maximum achievable control technology standards, performance standards, and other requirements under the Clean Air Act; and
2. Identify non-hazardous secondary materials that, when used as fuels or ingredients in combustion units of such industry and plants are solid waste under the Solid Waste Disposal Act for purposes of determining the extent to which such combustion units are required to meet the emissions standards under the Clean Air Act. [GOP.gov, 10/5/11]
EPA: Passing Cement MACT Regulations "Includes The Value Of Avoiding 960 to 2,500 Premature Deaths." According to an Environmental Protection Agency fact sheet:
EPA estimates benefits of these rules will range from $6.7 billion to $18 billion annually in 2013, as a result of reductions in fine particle pollution (PM2.5). This includes the value of avoiding 960 to 2,500 premature deaths in people with heart disease. EPA estimates this rule also will prevent other serious health effects each year, including:
- 17,000 cases of aggravated asthma,
- 1,500 heart attacks,
- 650 cases of chronic bronchitis,
- 1,000 emergency room visits for respiratory problems, such as asthma,
- 740 hospital admissions for respiratory or cardiovascular problems,
- 32,000 cases of upper and lower respiratory symptoms,
- 130,000 days when people miss work, and
- 750,000 days when people must restrict their activities because of particle pollution-related symptoms.
[Environmental Protection Agency, 8/09/10]
CAP: "It Isn't Pending Regulation That Is Causing" Cement Plants To Close, "It's The Fact That Demand For Cement Is Down 40 Percent" From Pre-Recession Levels. According to the Center For American Progress:
In 2013 there will be about 181 Portland cement kilns operating in about 100 locations around the United States. The air toxics standard will apply to 158 kilns, the new source-performance standards to about seven. The EPA estimates that every $1 spent in compliance with these rules will yield between $7 and $19 in public-health benefits.
Conservatives point to this rule as a job killer at the same time that they block passage of a bill that would spend billions of dollars on highway construction. It isn't a pending regulation that is causing one-third of cement plants in the country to be shut off every other month — it's the fact that demand for cement is down 40 percent from where it was before the recession. [Center For American Progress, 10/21/11, internal hyperlinks removed]
H.R. 2250 Would "Provide A Legislative Stay Of Four Interrelated" EPA Boiler MACT Rules. According to GOP.gov:
H.R. 2250 would provide a legislative stay of four interrelated Environmental Protection Agency rules, commonly referred to as the "Boiler MACT rules," that govern emissions of mercury and other hazardous air pollutants from approximately 200,000 boilers and incinerators nationwide. [...]
The bill would also provide for the replacement of the Boiler MACT rules. Specifically, H.R. 2250 would require the Administrator of the EPA to promulgate, 15 months from the date of enactment, new regulations for industrial, commercial, and institutional boilers and process heaters and commercial and industrial solid waste incinerator units. [GOP.gov, 10/5/11]
Delaying Boiler MACT Regulations Could Result In "Up To 28,350 Premature Deaths." According to the U.S. Climate Network:
The [near-identical Senate] bill does not simply delay the standards by 15 months, as some have been falsely reporting. Instead, the legislation fundamentally weakens the Clean Air Act and delays current compliance deadlines for industry by a minimum of 3.5 years resulting in:
o Up to 28,350 premature deaths;
o Over 17,000 heart attacks;
o Nearly 19,000 hospital and emergency room visits;
o More than 1.2 million days of missed work; and
o Over 150,000 cases of asthma attacks.
EPA recently re-proposed toxic standards for industrial boilers and incinerators. These proposed standards are the product of EPA's reconsideration of standard first finalized in March, 2011. EPA listened to industry concerns about the rule and as a result, the reproposal provides more health benefits, more flexibility, and lower industry implementation costs. The agency is currently taking comments on these reproposed standards, and expects to finalize them by late spring in 2012. The agency has never said that it needs new legislation to provide more time to finish these standards and EPA opposes the delays and weakening changes in S.1392. For these reasons, the president has issued a veto threat over the near-identical House bill, H.R. 2250. [...]
Finally, the President and CEO of the American Boiler Manufacturers Association, in response to EPA's re-proposal, stated "American Boiler Manufacturers Association urges 'no action' on S. 1392 nor any additional action on H. R. 2250. Needless, arbitrary delay in resolution of these rules does not serve the best interests of either those who are being regulated or those who provide goods and services to those regulated. Delay means only additional uncertainty in the market place. Progress is being made through the regular order; we would urge you to let the rulemaking process go forward without Congressional intrusion." [U.S. Climate Network, 12/07/11, emphasis original]
H.R. 910 "Would Prohibit The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) From Regulating Greenhouse Gases (GHG) To Address Climate Change Under The Clean Air Act." According to GOP.gov:
H.R. 910 would prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating greenhouse gases (GHG) to address climate change under the Clean Air Act. More specifically, the bill would prohibit the EPA from regulating: water vapor; carbon dioxide; methane; nitrous oxide; sulfur hexafluoride; hydrofluorocarbons; perfluorocarbons; and any other substance subject to regulation, action or consideration under the Clean Air Act to address climate change. The bill would also repeal a number of EPA rules and actions, including the mandatory reporting of greenhouse gases. [...]
H.R. 910 would provide that none of aforementioned exemptions would cause a GHG to be subject to regulations relating to the prevention of significant deterioration of air quality, or would be considered an air pollutant for purposes of air pollution prevention and control permits. [GOP.gov, 5/6/11]
H.R. 910 Would "Disrupt Improved Fuel Economy Standards" That Would "Reduce Oil Use" In Vehicles Built Between 2012-2016. According to ThinkProgress:
H.R. 910 would also disrupt improved fuel economy standards scheduled to take effect this fall, which would reduce oil use by at least 1.8 billion barrels over the life of vehicles built from 2012-2016. It would also short circuit efforts to further improve fuel economy for cars built from 2017-2025, and trucks built from 2014 and beyond. This could increase Americans' reliance on foreign oil imports, which already comprises over half of U.S. oil consumption. The Upton bill should be called "the Asthma for Everyone and More Imported Oil Act of 2011."
A large number of public interest nonprofit organizations are coming together in opposition to this bill. On April 4th, 500 nongovernmental organizations added their voices to the opposition to Upton's bill that is scheduled for debate and votes on the House floor this Wednesday April 6th. The United Auto Workers expressed their concern that H.R. 910 would cost auto workers their jobs by upending the carefully crafted improvements in fuel economy, joining these 500 groups in opposition to Upton's pro-pollution, pro-foreign oil bill. [ThinkProgress, 4/5/11]
H.R. 2018 Would Restrict The EPA's "Ability To Issue A Revised Or New Water Quality Standard For A Pollutant Whenever A State Has Adopted And EPA Already Has Approved A Water Quality Standard." According to GOP.gov:
H.R. 2018 would amend the Clean Water Act (CWA) by restricting the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) ability to issue a revised or new water quality standard for a pollutant whenever a state has adopted and EPA already has approved a water quality standard for that pollutant, unless the state concurs with the EPA Administrator's determination that the revised or new standard is necessary to meet the requirements of the CWA. The bill would prevent unilateral actions by the EPA that second-guess the decisions of the state regulatory agency. [GOP.gov, 7/13/11]
Former Republican Congressman: H.R. 2018 Is A "Destructive" Bill "Targets The Very Heart Of The Clean Water Act." From an op-ed by former Republican Congressman Sherwood Boehlert (NY):
The measure the House is considering this week (H.R. 2018) is narrower than the more comprehensive rewrite of the Clean Water Act that House Republicans failed to get enacted in 1995, but it's just as destructive. The bill targets the very heart of the Clean Water Act: the notion that a federal backstop is needed to ensure that states don't give a pass to polluters.
It's not hard to understand why leaving clean water policy entirely to the states doesn't work. First, waters don't follow state boundaries. Pollutants that are put in the waters of one state don't stay in that state, and indeed may do more damage downstream as pollutants accumulate. A water policy that is, in effect, based on the theory that "what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" will fail pretty quickly. Second, state politics often favor narrow company interests at the expense of the broader public. Companies can threaten to move to other states, and state campaign finance laws are often weak.
This isn't just a theoretical conclusion. Prior to the enactment of the Clean Water Act of 1972, we had clean water laws on the books, but they weren't very effective because the federal government had little authority. We have more drinkable, fishable and swimmable waters today, in part because we finally had a clean water law that didn't let states just flush their wastes downstream or do whatever their local companies found most convenient. [...]
It's sad that we have to repeat all this now, with a new class of conservatives, filled with even more irrational exuberance, trying to undermine basic environmental protections, and led again by some senior members who should know better. But I hope the rest of the story is also repeated, with the scale and scope of the rollbacks waking up the public and leading to the tide being reversed. With an EPA spending bill pending that has more than 20 anti-environmental riders this time, that tide couldn't be reversed soon enough. [Huffington Post, 7/13/11]
H.R. 872 Would Clarify That The EPA Or A State "May Not Require A Permit Under The Federal Water Pollution Control Act For The Application Of Pesticides." According to GOP.gov:
H.R. 872 would amend the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) to clarify that the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or a state may not require a permit under the Federal Water Pollution Control Act for the application of pesticides regulated under FIFRA.
The bill would amend the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to clarify that a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit shall not be required for a discharge of pesticides registered under FIFRA. The bill would provide exceptions which would allow the EPA to require a NPDES permit for the discharge of pesticides that would not fall under FIFRA or would discharge pesticides in violation of FIFRA. [GOP.gov, 3/30/11]
NCAP: "More than 1,000 Waterways In The United States Are Known To Be Impaired Because Of Pesticide Pollution." According to the Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides:
More than 1,000 waterways in the United States are known to be impaired because of pesticide pollution — and many more may be polluted but are not sampled. In a nationwide survey, the U.S. Geological Survey found pesticides (or their byproducts) in every stream they sampled. In California, pesticide pollution is responsible for 27 percent of the state's waters being designated as unfit for drinking, swimming, and fishing under the Clean Water Act. [...]
Pesticides discharged into our waterways can kill or cause severe reproductive and developmental harm and cancer in fish and amphibians. The toxins can also move up the food chain, potentially accumulating in people who eat fish, and can contaminate our drinking water supplies. Since the 1960s, the spraying of the pesticide carbaryl to control populations of burrowing shrimp in Washington's Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor has killed millions of fish and crab, including endangered Chinook salmon. In 1996, the Talent Irrigation District, which discharged an herbicide into irrigation canals to kill aquatic weeds, ended up killing 92,000 juvenile steelhead salmon when the pesticide flowed from the canals into an adjacent, pristine creek. [Pesticide.org, 3/23/11]
H.R. 2021 Would "Make Three Technical Clarifications To The Clean Air Act" In Order To Eliminate Offshore Drilling Permitting Delays. According to GOP.gov:
H.R. 2021 would eliminate needless permitting delays that have stalled important energy production opportunities off the coast of Alaska. To do so, H.R. 2021 would make three technical clarifications to the Clean Air Act:
1. The bill would specify that any drilling vessel must be considered a stationary source, and regulated as such, once drilling commences. This provision would eliminate uncertainly about which rules apply and when in the energy exploration and development process.
2. H.R. 2021 would clarify that service ships are not regulated as stationary sources simply because they supply or service Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) sources. Currently, service ships, like delivery trucks servicing factories on land, are regulated under the Clean Air Act as mobile sources.
3. The bill would specify that air emission impacts are to be measures onshore. This is consistent with the emissions measurements that apply to facilities on land, measuring emissions at the point where they could affect the public, whether at the shoreline or on the fence line.
The bill would also eliminate the permitting back-and-forth that occurs between Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and its Environmental Appeals Board. Rather than having exploration air permits repeatedly approved and rescinded by the agency and its review board, the EPA will be required to take final action — granting or denying a permit — within six months. All appeals will go to the D.C. Circuit Court for resolution because of the national implications of oil production on the Outer Continental Shelf and the need for consistency in decision-making. [GOP.gov, 6/22/11]
U.S. Climate Network: H.R. 2021 Would Block EPA "From Regulating Dangerous Air Pollution From Offshore Oil Drilling" That "Can Cause Severe Lung Problems." According to Alaska Wilderness League:
H.R. 2021, The "Jobs and Energy Permitting Act of 2011," would block the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating dangerous air pollution from offshore oil drilling, including America's Arctic Ocean. America's Arctic Ocean, located off the north coast of Alaska, is warming at twice the rate of the rest of the world and is one of the most vulnerable regions in the country. At its core, this bill gives Shell Oil — the world's second largest corporation, with profits upwards of $8.7 billion in the first three months of 2011 alone — exemptions to important air pollution controls and a free pass to pursue risky and aggressive oil drilling in the Arctic Ocean on its own terms by severely limiting public and judicial review during the oil and gas permitting process. [...]
Pollution from the offshore oil industry includes high levels of solid, air-borne pollutants (fine particulate matter: smoke, fumes, dust, ash, soot) — including black carbon which contributes to climate change and is potentially radioactive. These pollutants can cause severe lung problems and other major health issues. The oil industry on Alaska's North Slope annually generates more than twice the amount of smog-forming pollution (nitrogen oxides) than the major metropolitan area of Washington, DC. In such a sensitive and vulnerable region, it makes no sense to provide a blanket exception to Clean Air laws that have saved more than 200,000 lives and prevented millions of asthma attacks, heart problems and other serious illnesses in just the past 20 years. [U.S. Climate Network, accessed 1/20/11]
H.R. 2401 Would Establish A Committee "Charged With Analyzing And Reporting On The Cumulative And Incremental Impacts Of Covered Rules And Actions Of The EPA." According to GOP.gov:
H.R. 2401 would require analyses of the cumulative and incremental impacts of certain rules and actions of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Specifically, the bill would require the President to establish the Committee for the Cumulative Analysis of Regulations that Impact Energy and Manufacturing in the United States. The Committee would be charged with analyzing and reporting on the cumulative and incremental impacts of covered rules and actions of the EPA concerning air, waste, water, and climate change. [GOP.gov, 9/22/11]
H.R. 2401 "Would Block Two Landmark Public Health Regulations Under The Clean Air Act And Require Costly, Unnecessary, and Redundant Reports. According to an OMB Statement of Administration Policy:
The Administration strongly opposes H.R. 2401, which would block two landmark public health regulations under the Clean Air Act (CAA) and require the preparation of costly, unnecessary, and redundant reports. While the Administration strongly supports careful analysis of the economic effects of regulation, the approach taken in H.R. 2401 would slow or undermine important public health protections. [...]
Each year, these rules would avoid tens of thousands of premature deaths, prevent tens of thousands of heart attacks and thousands of hospital visits for respiratory and cardiovascular disease, and alleviate hundreds of thousands of childhood asthma attacks and other respiratory illnesses. EPA estimates that these two rules alone will yield hundreds of billions of dollars in net benefits each year. H.R. 2401 would block these rules and indefinitely delay these public health and economic benefits. [WhiteHouse.gov, 9/21/11]
CERES: "Since 1970, Investments To Comply With The Clean Air Act Have Provided $4 to $8 In Economic Benefits For Every $1 Spent On Compliance." According to a study Ceres: "Since 1970, investments to comply with the Clean Air Act have provided $4 to $8 in economic benefits for every $1 spent on compliance, according to the nonpartisan Office of Management and Budget. Since the passage of the Clean Air Act Amendments in 1990, U.S. average electricity rates (real) have remained flat even as electric utilities have invested hundreds of billions of dollars to cut their air pollution emissions. During the same period, America's overall GDP increased by 60 percent in inflation-adjusted terms. The bottom line: clean air is a worthwhile investment." [Ceres, February 2011]
The REINS Act Would Block Major Regulations Until "After The Enactment Of A Joint Resolution Of Approval By Congress." According to GOP.gov:
H.R. 10 would increase accountability for and transparency in the federal regulatory process. According to the legislation, Section 1 of article I of the United States Constitution grants all legislative powers to Congress. Over time, Congress has excessively delegated its constitutional charge while failing to conduct appropriate oversight and retain accountability for the content of the laws it passes. By requiring a vote in Congress, the REINS Act would result in more carefully drafted and detailed legislation, an improved regulatory process, and a legislative branch that is truly accountable to the American people for the laws imposed upon them. [...]
The bill would require that a major rule take effect only after the enactment of a joint resolution of approval by Congress. A nonmajor rule would take effect so long as Congress does not disapprove of the rule. The bill would prohibit a joint resolution of approval relating to a major rule from being considered after a 70 day period (i.e. if a joint resolution is not enacted into law by the end of 70 session days or legislative days, beginning on the date the report is received by Congress, then the rule described in that resolution would be deemed not approved and would not take effect). [GOP.gov, 12/7/11]
White House: The REINS Act Would Be "A Radical Departure From The Longstanding Separation Of Powers Between The Executive And Legislative Branches." According to an OMB Statement of Administration Policy:
The Administration is committed to ensuring that regulations are smart and effective, and tailored to further statutory goals in the most cost-effective and efficient manner. Accordingly, the Administration strongly opposes House passage of H.R. 10, the Regulations From the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act, which would impose an unprecedented requirement that a joint resolution of approval be enacted by the Congress before any major rule of Executive Branch agencies could have force or effect. This radical departure from the longstanding separation of powers between the Executive and Legislative branches would delay and, in many cases, thwart implementation of statutory mandates and execution of duly enacted laws, increase business uncertainty, undermine much-needed protections of the American public, and create unnecessary confusion. [WhiteHouse.gov, 12/6/11]
H.R. 3010 "Reforms The Federal Agency Rule Making Process" By Changing The Current Rule Making Procedure. According to a Republican Study Committee Legislative Bulletin:
H.R. 3010 reforms the federal agency rulemaking process by amending the current law accountability and judicial review procedures included in the Administrative Procedures Act — a 1946 law commonly referred to as the "constitution" of federal agency rulemaking that has not been updated since its enactment. [Republican Study Committee, 12/2/11]
White House: H.R. 3010 "Would Impose Unprecedented Procedural Requirements On Agencies That Would Prevent Them From Performing Their Statutory Responsibilities." According to an OMB Statement of Administration Policy:
The Administration is committed to ensuring that regulations are smart and effective, that they are tailored to advance statutory goals in the most cost-effective and efficient manner, and that they minimize uncertainty. Accordingly, the Administration strongly opposes House passage of H.R. 3010, the Regulatory Accountability Act. The Regulatory Accountability Act would impose unprecedented procedural requirements on agencies that would prevent them from performing their statutory responsibilities. It would also create needless regulatory and legal uncertainty and increase costs for businesses, as well as state, tribal, and local governments, and further impede the implementation of commonsense protections for the American public. [...]
Passage of H.R. 3010 would replace this time-honored framework with layers of additional procedural requirements that would seriously undermine the ability of agencies to execute their statutory mandates. It would require cumbersome "formal" rulemaking for a new category of rules, for which agencies would have to conduct quasi-adjudicatory proceedings. It would impose unnecessary new evidentiary standards as a condition of rulemaking. It would subject the regulatory process to unneeded rounds of litigation. Finally, the Regulatory Accountability Act would undermine the Executive Branch's ability to adapt regulatory review to changing circumstances.
In these ways and others, the Regulatory Accountability Act would impede the ability of agencies to provide the public with basic protections, and create needless confusion and delay that would prove disruptive for businesses, as well as for state, tribal and local governments. [WhiteHouse.gov, 11/29/11]
H.R. 527 Amends Two Laws To "Require All Agencies To Use Advocacy Review Panels" To Evaluate Regulations' Impact On Small Businesses. According to a press release by Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-TN):
Yesterday, U.S. Representative Stephen Fincher (R-Frog Jump), voted in favor of H.R. 527, the Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act. The bill is sponsored by Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX) and passed the House 235 to 159. H.R. 527 amends the Regulatory Flexibility Act and the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act to provide consistency in regulatory analysis.
The Regulatory Flexibility Act and the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act both require agencies to prepare an analysis of regulations before they are implemented to assess the effect on small businesses. This process is inconsistent among federal agencies. H.R. 527 will require all agencies to use advocacy review panels, enabling small businesses to be heard before major regulatory burdens are imposed. [Fincher.House.gov, 12/2/11]
White House: H.R. 527 "Would Impose Unneeded And Costly Analytical And Procedural Requirements On Agencies That Would Prevent Them From Preforming Their Statutory Responsibilities." According to an OMB Statement of Administration Policy:
The Administration is committed to ensuring that regulations are smart and effective, that they are tailored to advance statutory goals in the most cost-effective and efficient manner, and that they minimize uncertainty. Accordingly, the Administration strongly opposes House passage of H.R. 527, the Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act. The Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act would impose unneeded and costly analytical and procedural requirements on agencies that would prevent them from performing their statutory responsibilities. It would also create needless regulatory and legal uncertainty and increase costs for businesses and further impede the implementation of commonsense protections for the American public. [WhiteHouse.gov, 11/29/11]
H.R. 1315 Would Amend The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform And Consumer Protection Act And Would "Delay Any Further Transfer Of Powers To The CFPB." According to GOP.gov:
H.R. 1315 would amend Section 1023 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (P.L. 111-203) which addresses the Financial Stability Oversight Council's (FSOC) review and oversight of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) rules and regulations that may undermine the safety and soundness of U.S. financial institutions.
The bill would make four changes to the FSOC's review procedures: (1) it would lower the threshold required to set aside CFPB's proposed regulations from a two-thirds vote of the FSOC's voting membership to a simple majority, excluding the Director of the CFPB; (2) it would clarify that the FSOC must set aside any CFPB regulation that is inconsistent with the safe and sound operations of U.S. financial institutions; (3) it would eliminate the 45-day time limit for the FSOC to review and vote on CFPB regulations; and (4) it would require that all FSOC meetings be open to the public whenever it decides to stay or set aside a CFPB regulation.
Additionally, the bill would establish a bi-partisan, five-member Commission (consisting of a Chairman and four additional members) to carry out all of the duties that would otherwise fall to the Director of the CFPB. Commission members would be appointed by the President, confirmed by the Senate, and would serve five-year terms.
The bill would also amend Section 1062 of the Dodd-Frank Act to delay any further transfer of powers to the CFPB until the later of the following: (1) July 21, 2011; or (2) the date on which the Chair of the Commission of the Bureau is confirmed by the Senate. [GOP.gov, 7/21/11]
White House: H.R. 1315 Would Amend Dodd-Frank "In A Manner That Would Expose American Consumers And The Nation's Economy To The Same Risks That Led To The 2008 Financial Crisis." According to an OMB Statement of Administration Policy:
The Administration strongly opposes House passage of the Rules Committee Print of H.R. 1315 because it would amend the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in a manner that would expose American consumers and the Nation's economy to the same risks that led to the 2008 financial crisis. [...]
The Administration strongly opposes House passage of the Rules Committee Print of H.R. 1315 because it would amend the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in a manner that would expose American consumers and the Nation's economy to the same risks that led to the 2008 financial crisis. [WhiteHouse.gov, 7/20/11]
H.R. 2587 "Would Effectively Prevent the NLRB From Restricting Where An Employer Can Create Jobs In The United States." According to GOP.gov:
H.R. 2587 would prohibit the National Labor Relations Board (NRLB) from ordering any employer to close, relocate, or transfer employment under any circumstance. The bill would amend the National Labor Relations Act to prohibit the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), in future and pending cases, from ordering any employer to close, relocate, or transfer employment under any circumstances. The legislation would effectively prevent the NLRB from restricting where an employer can create jobs in the United States. The bill would eliminate an extreme enforcement remedy available to the board; more than a dozen alternative remedies remain available to hold employers accountable for unlawful labor practices and make employees whole. The bill would apply to any complaint for which a final adjudication by the NRLB has not been made by the date of enactment. [GOP.gov, 9/15/11]
White House: H.R. 2587 "Would Leave Employees No Meaningful Recourse In Certain Situations Where An Employer Has Violated The NLRA." According to a OMB Statement of Administration Policy:
The Administration opposes H.R.2587 because it undermines enforcement of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). The NLRA establishes the legal rights of employers and employees with respect to workplace organizing and collective bargaining. The NLRA does not restrict the location of company operations, provided companies comply with the law. H.R. 2587 would leave employees no meaningful recourse in certain situations where an employer has violated the NLRA. [WhiteHouse.gov, 7/26/11]
H.R. 3094 "Would Amend The National Labor Relations Act To Define How The National Labor Relations Board May Determine A Unit For Purposes Of Collective Bargaining." According to GOP.gov:
H.R. 3094 would amend the National Labor Relations Act to define how the National Labor Relations Board may determine a unit for purposes of collective bargaining. The bill would also provide minimum and maximum time frames in which action should be taken in response to the filing of election petitions. [GOP.gov, 11/18/11]
White House: H.R. 3094 "Would Undermine And Delay Workers' Ability To Exercise Their Right To Choose Whether Or Not To Be Represented By A Union." According to an OMB Statement Of Administration Policy:
The Administration opposes H.R. 3094 because it would undermine and delay workers' ability to exercise their right to choose whether or not to be represented by a union. H.R. 3094 also attacks the freedom of individuals to choose the co-workers with whom they wish to seek representation. [WhiteHouse.gov, 11/17/11]
H.J. Res. 37 Would Undo An FCC Net Neutrality Rule Relating To "Preserving The Open Internet And Broadband Industry Practices." According to GOP.gov:
H.J. Res. 37 resolves that:
"Congress disapproves the rule submitted by the Federal Communications Commission relating to the matter of preserving the open Internet and broadband industry practices (Report and Order FCC 10-201, adopted by the Commission on December 21, 2010), and such rule shall have no force or effect."
The Congressional Review Act allows Congress to undo a regulatory agency's action within 60 days of its adoption by voting to approve a "motion of disapproval" that cannot be blocked by a filibuster in the Senate. [GOP.gov, 4/5/11]
Net Neutrality Prevents Internet Providers From Tampering With Consumers' Equal Access To The Web. According to PCMag.com:
For those who need a refresher, net neutrality is the concept that everyone should have equal access to the Web. Amazon should not be able to pay to have its Web site load faster than a mom-and-pop e-commerce site, for example. After Comcast was accused of blocking P2P sites, however, the FCC decided to craft rules that would ban ISPs from discriminating based on content. It was OK to slow down your entire network during peak times, for example, but you couldn't block a particular site, like BitTorrent. The rules approved by the FCC give the commission the authority to step into disputes about how ISPs are managing their networks or initiate their own investigations if they think ISPs are violating its rules. [PCMag.com, 9/22/11]
Economist Bruce Bartlett: Idea That Cutting Regulations Will Lead To Job Growth Is "Just Made Up." According to the Huffington Post:
Consider proposed cuts in taxes and regulation, which nearly every GOP candidate is pushing in the name of creating jobs. The initiatives seem to ignore surveys in which employers cite far bigger impediments to increased hiring, chiefly slack consumer demand.
"Republicans favor tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations, but these had no stimulative effect during the George W. Bush administration, and there is no reason to believe that more of them will have any today," writes Bruce Bartlett. He's an economist who worked for Republican congressmen and in the administrations of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
As for the idea that cutting regulations will lead to significant job growth, Bartlett said in an interview, "It's just nonsense. It's just made up."
Government and industry studies support his view. [Huffington Post, 10/30/11]
AP: "Just Two-Tenths Of 1 Percent Of Layoffs Have Been Due To Government Regulation." According to the Associated Press:
Labor Department data show that only a tiny percentage of companies that experience large layoffs cite government regulation as the reason. Since Barack Obama took office, just two-tenths of 1 percent of layoffs have been due to government regulation, the data show.
Businesses frequently complain about regulation, but there is little evidence that it is any worse now than in the past or that it is costing significant numbers of jobs. Most economists believe there is a simpler explanation: Companies aren't hiring because there isn't enough consumer demand.
The conservative National Federation of Independent Business asks its small-business membership each month to name the single most important problem they're facing. Last month, the most common response was "poor sales," cited by 28 percent. Government regulation came in second, at 18 percent.
Concerns over regulation have increased in the past two years — only 11 percent cited it in April 2009, not long after Obama entered the White House. But the rise hasn't been outside historical norms. More small businesses complained about regulation during the administrations of President Bill Clinton and the President George H.W. Bush, according to an analysis of the federation's data by the liberal Economic Policy Institute.
High levels of economic uncertainty are another drag on business, but economists say that's less due to regulation than to fights over government spending and taxes. Both consumer and business confidence fell in August, for example, as the White House and Congress wrangled over the nation's borrowing limit. But that was a bipartisan dispute that can't be solely pinned on Obama. [Associated Press Via Boston.com, 10/12/11]
National Association for Business Economics: "80% Of Survey Respondents Felt That The Current Regulatory Environment Was 'Good' For American Business And The Overall Economy." According to a National Association for Business Economics Survey: "Regulatory activity has gained a lot of attention, with many groups suggesting that American businesses are overregulated by the current administration. With that said, 80 percent of survey respondents felt that the current regulatory environment was "good" for American businesses and the overall economy." [National Association for Business Economics, Aug. 2011]
BLS Data Shows That Less Than One-Quarter Of All Layoffs Were Due To Government Regulation. According to Dave Weigel:
The Bureau of Labor Statistics breaks out the numbers behind layoffs in three quarters: 2010 Q4, 2011 Q1, and 2011 Q2. "Governmental regulations/intervention" gets a category all its own. So: What percentage of layoffs can be traced back to job-crushing government red tape?
In every quarter, the answer is "less than one percent." In 2010 Q4, only 0.25 percent of "layoff events" were the result of regulation. In 2011 Q1, it was 0.4 percent. In 2011 Q2, it was down again to 0.3 percent. [Slate.com, 9/30/11]
McClatchy: Small Business Owners Not Worried About Regulations. As reported by McClatchy:
Politicians and business groups often blame excessive regulation and fear of higher taxes for tepid hiring in the economy. However, little evidence of that emerged when McClatchy canvassed a random sample of small business owners across the nation.
"Government regulations are not 'choking' our business, the hospitality business," Bernard Wolfson, the president of Hospitality Operations in Miami, told The Miami Herald. "In order to do business in today's environment, government regulations are necessary and we must deal with them. The health and safety of our guests depend on regulations. It is the government regulations that help keep things in order." [...]
McClatchy reached out to owners of small businesses, many of them mom-and-pop operations, to find out whether they indeed were being choked by regulation, whether uncertainty over taxes affected their hiring plans and whether the health care overhaul was helping or hurting their business.
Their response was surprising.
None of the business owners complained about regulation in their particular industries, and most seemed to welcome it. Some pointed to the lack of regulation in mortgage lending as a principal cause of the financial crisis that brought about the Great Recession of 2007-09 and its grim aftermath. [McClatchy, 9/1/11]
H.R. 3630 Was The House GOP's Payroll Tax Extension Proposal. According to GOP.gov:
The Middle Class Tax Relief & Job Creation Act of 2011 would provide a fully-offset extension of the current payroll tax rates, a delay in the implementation of the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate (the so-called "Doc Fix"), and an extension of reformed Unemployment Insurance benefits. The legislation would provide assistance to Americans suffering in the Obama economy, while ensuring that these policies will not increase the federal deficit by freezing pay for members of Congress and federal workers, reforming Unemployment Insurance, reducing subsidies, and getting rid of waste, fraud and abuse in some Washington programs. In addition, the bill would provide new incentives for job creation by extending 100 percent business expensing, removing burdensome EPA regulations and taking action on the bipartisan Keystone XL energy project. [...]
North American Energy Access: The bill would require the President to issue a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline unless he determines that the pipeline would not serve the national interest. The permit would be required within 60 days of enactment of this Act. If the President makes such a finding he would be required to submit a report to Congress providing justification for such a determination. Any permit issued under this section would be required to comply with all applicable Federal and state laws and would require the reconsideration of routing within the State of Nebraska. [GOP.gov, 12/13/11, emphasis original]
Instead Of A Clean Payroll Tax Cut Extension, H.R. 3630 Cut Spending And Forced A Decision On The Keystone XL Pipeline. According to The Hill:
For numerous reasons, the bill, H.R. 3630, is controversial with Democrats, who wanted to pay for these extensions through tax increases. The House GOP bill pays for extensions to the payroll tax holiday and unemployment insurance through reforms and cuts to existing spending, and would also trim discretionary spending by $30 billion over the next decade.
House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) defended these unemployment provisions as needed reforms that would promote work over welfare. [...]
The bill also contains what Democrats see as extraneous language that would speed up the timing of the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline, and delays pending EPA rules on industrial boilers. Pelosi said Republicans were using the Keystone pipeline issue as a diversion from President Obama's jobs plan. [The Hill, 12/13/11]
The House And Senate Did Pass A Temporary Payroll Tax Cut Extension In December That Included A Keystone XL Provision. According to CNNMoney:
The House and Senate on Friday finally approved and President Obama signed into law a short-term extension of the payroll tax cut and federal unemployment benefits, and staved off a steep cut in pay to Medicare doctors. [...]
In a nod to Republican wishes, the law requires President Obama to expedite his decision on whether to allow construction of the 1,700-mile Keystone oil pipeline. [CNNMoney, 12/23/11]
Cornell: "Almost All" KXL Jobs Will Be Temporary — Permanent U.S. Jobs Could Be "As Few As 50." From Cornell University Global Labor Institute's report: "[I]t is also important to consider that almost all of the jobs (direct, indirect and induced) associated with Keystone XL will, of course, also be temporary. The operating costs for KXL are very minimal, and based on the figures provided by TransCanada for the Canadian section of the pipeline, the new permanent US pipeline jobs in the US number as few as 50. The other operating expenditures (for materials, supplies, services, electric power, property taxes, etc.) would comprise the bulk of operating expenses and would also have some job impacts. So considering a broad range of spin-offs, operating expenditures would have job impacts in the order of around 1,000 per year." [Cornell University Global Labor Institute, September 2011, internal citations removed]
Cornell University Global Labor Institute: Based On TransCanada's Numbers, "The Project Will Create No More Than 2,500-4,600 Temporary Direct Construction Jobs." From Cornell University Global Labor Institute's report: "A calculation of the direct jobs that might be created by KXL can begin with an examination of the jobs on-site to build and inspect the pipeline. The project will create no more than 2,500-4,650 temporary direct construction jobs for two years, according to TransCanada's own data supplied to the State Department." [Cornell University Global Labor Institute, September 2011]
H.R. 1229 Would Force The Secretary Of The Interior "To Decide Whether To Issue A Permit Within 30 Days" Of Receiving An Application. According to GOP.gov:
H.R. 1229 would amend the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to direct the Secretary of the Interior to require that any lessee operating under an approved exploration plan obtain a permit before drilling any well, and obtain a new permit before drilling any well of a design that is significantly different than the design for which an existing permit was issued. The bill would prohibit the Secretary from issuing a permit without ensuring that the proposed drilling operations meet all critical safely system requirements (including blowout prevention), and oil spill response and containment requirements.
The bill would require the Secretary to decide whether to issue a permit within 30 days after receiving an application for the permit. H.R. 1229 would allow this period to be extended for up to 30 days if the Secretary has given written notice of the delay to the applicant. (This provision of H.R. 1229 would end the de facto moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico.) [GOP.gov, 5/10/11]
H.R. 1230 Would "Require The Department Of The Interior (DOI) To Auction Offshore Oil And Gas Leases" In The Gulf Of Mexico And Near Virginia. According to GOP.gov:
H.R. 1230 would require the Department of the Interior (DOI) to auction offshore oil and gas leases in the Central and Western Gulf of Mexico, as well as in an area off the coast of Virginia. Specifically, H.R. 1230 would require the Secretary of the Interior to conduct offshore oil and gas lease sales as follows:
1. Lease sale 216 in the Central Gulf of Mexico "as soon as practicable," and no later than four months after enactment of the Act;
2. Lease sale 218 in the Western Gulf of Mexico "as soon as practicable," and no later than eight months after enactment of the Act;
3. Lease sale 220 on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) offshore of Virginia "as soon as practicable," and no later than one year after enactment of the Act; and
4. Lease sale 222 in the Central Gulf of Mexico "as soon as practicable," and no later than June 1, 2012. [GOP.gov, 5/5/11]
H.R. 1231 Would "Establish A Domestic Oil And Natural Gas Production Goal." According to GOP.gov:
H.R. 1231 would amend the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to require that each five-year offshore oil and gas leasing program offer leasing in the areas with the most prospective oil and gas resources, and would establish a domestic oil and natural gas production goal. The bill would essentially lift the President's ban on new offshore drilling by requiring the Administration to move forward on American energy production in areas estimated to contain the most oil and natural gas resources. [GOP.gov, 5/10/11]
Natural Resources Defense Council: H.R. 1229, 1230, and 1231 "Accelerate The Very Processes That The President's National Oil Spill Commission Found Led To The BP Disaster." According to the Natural Resources Defense Council: "One year ago, the Deepwater Horizon exploded, killing 11 workers, spilling 170 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, and wreaking havoc on the environment. However, rather than seeking to prevent future disasters, H.R. 1229, 1230, and 1231 accelerate the very processes that the President's National Oil Spill Commission found led to the BP disaster. The three drill-at-all-cost bills would actually weaken the system for overseeing oil drilling that was in effect before the Deepwater Horizon disaster, and mandate new drilling in sensitive ocean areas off virtually every coast." [NRDC.org, April 2011]
ThinkProgress: "Since Obama Took Office, Oil Production Has Increased Substantially — With More Drilling Rigs Being Deployed In America Today Than At Any Time Since The Mid 1980's." According to ThinkProgress:
But here's the deep, dirty little secret not mentioned by fossil fuel champions who falsely claim the Administration is killing oil and gas jobs: Since Obama took office, oil production has increased substantially — with more drilling rigs being deployed in America today than at any time since the mid 1980′s.
This increase in production has already resulted in 12 times the jobs that would be created to build the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Do you hear any mention of that from political candidates or the fossil fuel lobby? Absolutely not. And you never will.
These jobs figures prove once again that no matter how aggressively this Administration promotes oil and gas — alienating the environmental base in the process — political opponents will attack Obama in any way they can. [ThinkProgress, 1/18/12, emphasis original]
White House: H.R. 1231 "Would Undermine And Circumvent The Transparent Public Process For Determining Which New Areas Are Appropriate To Lease." According to an OMB Statement of Administration Policy:
The Administration is committed to promoting safe and responsible domestic oil and gas production as part of a broad energy strategy that will protect consumers and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. That strategy, among other things, includes a balanced process to open new areas for leasing, prepare for the possibility of oil spills, and encourage responsible development of existing leases. The Administration opposes H.R. 1231, which would undermine and circumvent the transparent public process for determining which new areas are appropriate to lease.
H.R. 1231 would require the Department of the Interior (DOI) to open new areas on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) to leasing without any discretion to determine which areas are actually appropriate and safe for exploration and development. The bill would have the effect of mandating OCS lease sales along the entire East Coast, offshore California, and elsewhere, without providing states and local citizens the opportunity to share views about where exploration should happen. [WhiteHouse.gov, 5/10/11]
The Real Moratorium On Deep-Water Drilling In The Gulf Was Lifted In 2010. According to The Christian Science-Monitor:
The Obama administration lifted its moratorium on deep-water drilling in the Gulf of Mexico Tuesday, replacing it with what Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is calling a "gold standard" of safety standards for operators looking to drill in water depths greater than 500 feet. [...]
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which issues new permits for deep-water drilling in the Gulf, is "working to develop additional rules and guidelines" past what is being established this week, said director Michael Bromwich.
In the meantime, he added, "We will not approve permits or make decisions before the appropriate safeguards are in place."
The first permits under the new regulations will likely be issued "by the end of the year," Mr. Bromwich said, adding: "How [many permits] by the end of the year, I can't say." [The Christian Science Monitor, 10/12/10]
H.R. 2930 Would "Establish An Exemption From The Requirement That Certain Securities Be Registered With The Securities And Exchange Commission (SEC)." According to GOP.gov:
The legislation would amend the Securities Act of 1933 to establish an exemption from the requirement that certain securities be registered with the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC). Specifically, the bill would exempt securities from registration requirements if:
- The aggregate amount raised through the issuance is $1 million or less each year ($2 million or less if the issuer provides investors with certain financial information); and
- Each individual who invests in the securities does not invest, in any year, more than the lesser of $10,000 or 10 percent of the investor's annual income.
In order to qualify for this exemption, the bill would also require issuers or intermediaries acting between issuers and investors to provide certain information and risk disclosures to investors, such as warnings of the speculative nature generally applicable to investments in startups, emerging businesses, and small issuers. The bill would also require issuers or intermediaries to provide information about the issuer and offering to the SEC, in addition to providing continuous investor-level access to the intermediary's website and maintaining such books and records as the SEC deems appropriate. [GOP.gov, 11/3/11]
NASAA President: H.R. 2930 Would "Prohibit States From Enforcing Laws Designed To Minimize The Risks To Investors." According to testimony before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs from Jack E. Herstein, president of the North American Securities Administrators Association, Inc. and Assistant Director of the Nebraska Department of Banking & Finance, Bureau of Securities:
The bill would create a new exemption from SEC registration for an offering amount up to $2 million ($1 million if the company does not have audited financial statements), with a maximum of $10,000 per investor (or ten percent of the investor's annual income). The bill would treat these offerings as "covered securities" thereby preempting state authority to register the securities.
If this legislation is enacted in its current form, it will prohibit states from enforcing laws designed to minimize the risks to investors. By expressly preempting state law for the new crowdfunding exemption created under the legislation, it leaves a massive hole in the investor protection safety net. One of the fundamental tenets of securities law is that an investor is protected when the seller of securities is required to disclose sufficient information so that an investor can make an informed decision. Post-sale anti-fraud remedies provide little comfort to an investor who has lost a significant sum of money that is unrecoverable. This is a fundamental concern that states have had with HR 2930 since its introduction. [NASAA.org, 12/1/11]
The Senate Has Introduced Its Own Version, S. 1791, Which Is A "Considerable Improvement From H.R. 2930." According to testimony before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs from Jack E. Herstein, president of the North American Securities Administrators Association, Inc. and Assistant Director of the Nebraska Department of Banking & Finance, Bureau of Securities:
The Democratizing Access to Capital Act differs from H.R.2930 in several important respects. First, under S. 1791, individual investments in crowdfunding are limited to $1,000 per person, per year, with an aggregate offering cap of $1 million. In addition, S. 1791 provides that in order to raise money through crowdfunding under a federal exemption, the entity raising the money must be incorporated under, and subject to, State law, and a "crowdfunding intermediary" must be used.
S. 1791 represents a considerable improvement from H.R. 2930. [NASAA.org, 12/1/11]
The Senate Held A Hearing On S. 1719 On December 1, 2011. According to the Library of Congress page on S. 1719, the Democratizing Access to Capital Act of 2011:
Latest Major Action: 12/1/2011 Senate committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. Hearings held. [Thomas.gov, accessed 1/18/12]
The President Has Expressed His Support For Crowdfunding Measures Like H.R. 2930. According to and OMB Statement of Administration Policy: "The Administration supports House passage of H.R. 2930. In the President's September 8th Address to a Joint Session of Congress on jobs and the economy, he called for cutting away the red tape that prevents many rapidly growing startup companies from raising needed capital, including through a "crowdfunding" exemption from the requirement to register public securities offerings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. This proposal, which would enable greater flexibility in soliciting relatively small equity investments, grew out of the President's Startup America initiative and has been endorsed by the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. H.R. 2930 is broadly consistent with the President's proposal. This bill will make it easier for entrepreneurs to raise capital and create jobs. The Administration looks forward to continuing to work with the Congress to craft legislation that facilitates capital formation and job growth and provides appropriate investor protections." [WhiteHouse.gov, 11/2/11]
H.R. 2940 Would Direct The SEC "To Eliminate The Restriction ... Prohibiting The Solicitation Or Advertising Of A Securities Offering By Certain Issuers." According to GOP.gov:
The bill would amend the Securities Act of 1933 and direct the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) to eliminate the restriction under Regulation D Section 506 prohibiting the solicitation or advertising of a securities offering by certain issuers.
The bill would require the SEC to establish rules to ensure that only "accredited" investors purchase such securities. [GOP.gov, 11/3/11]
The House Passed H.R. 1970 Late In The Year, On November 3, 2011. According to The Hill: "And by a 413-11 vote, the House approved H.R. 2940, which would let companies use advertising to solicit investors, easing a current SEC restriction on this practice." [The Hill, 11/2/11]
The Senate Introduced An Identical Bill, S. 1831. According to GovTrack.us, S. 1831, the Access to Capital for Job Creators Act, was introduced by Sen. John Thune (R-SD) on November 9, 2011. [GovTrack.us, accessed 1/23/12]
The Senate Committee On Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Has Held Hearings Related To S. 1831. According to GovTrack.us page for S. 1831:
Last Action: Dec 14, 2011: Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Subcommittee on Securities, Insurance and Investment. Hearings held. [GovTrack.us, accessed 1/23/12]
H.R. 1070 Would Direct The SEC "To Exempt From Its Regulation A Class Of Securities For Which The Aggregate Offering Amount Is Between $5 Million and $50 Million." According to GOP.gov:
H.R. 1070 would amend the Securities Act of 1933 to direct the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to exempt from its regulation a class of securities for which the aggregate offering amount is between $5 million and $50 million, subject to specified terms and conditions. [GOP.gov, 11/2/11]
The House Passed H.R. 1970 Late In The Year, On November 2, 2011. According to The Hill: "The House also approved H.R. 1070, the Small Company Capital Formation Act, in a 421-1 vote. This will would let small companies sell up to $50 million in securities without first registering with the SEC. The current threshold of $5 million has not been adjusted for nearly 20 years." [The Hill, 11/2/11]
The Senate Introduced An Identical Bill, S. 1544. According to GovTrack.us, S. 1544, the Small Company Capital Formation Act of 2011, was introduced by Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) on September 12, 2011. [GovTrack.us, accessed 1/23/12]
The Senate Committee On Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Has Held Hearings Related To S. 1544. According to GovTrack.us page for S. 1544:
Last Action: Dec 1, 2011: Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. Hearings held. [GovTrack.us, accessed 1/23/12]
H.R. 1965 Would "Modify The Threshold At Which An Issuer Of Securities Must Register With The Securities And Exchange Commission (SEC)." According to GOP.gov:
H.R. 1965 would amend the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 to modify the threshold at which an issuer of securities must register with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
The bill would set the holding threshold that requires registration of a class of equity security at greater than $10 million of assets for any company and 2,000 holders of record if the company is a bank or bank holding company.
Finally, H.R. 1965 would direct the Chief Economist and the Director of the Division of Corporation Finance of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to study and make a cost-benefit analysis of shareholder registration thresholds. [GOP.gov, 11/2/11]
The House Passed H.R. 1965 Late In The Year, On November 2, 2011. According to The Hill: "In a 420-2 vote, the House approved H.R. 1965, which would ease the current requirement that banks and bank holding companies must register with the SEC once they have more than 500 shareholders. The bill would allow banks to delay the decision to register until there are 2,000 shareholders, which supporters said would give small community banks more leeway in when they undertake the complex registration process." [The Hill, 11/2/11]
The Senate Introduced An Identical Bill, S. 1942, On December 5, 2011. According to GovTrack.us, S. 1941, a "bill to amend the securities laws to establish certain thresholds for shareholder registration, and for other purposes," was introduced by Sen. Kay Hutchison (R-TX) on December 5, 2011. [GovTrack.us, accessed 1/23/12]
S. 1942 Has Been Referred To The Senate Committee On Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs. According to GovTrack.us page for S. 1942:
Last Action: Dec 5, 2011: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. [GovTrack.us, accessed 1/23/12]
H.R. 1938 "Would Require The President To Issue Final Order" On The Keystone XL Pipeline "No Later Than November 1, 2011." From GOP.gov:
H.R. 1938 would direct the President, acting through the Secretary of Energy, to coordinate with all federal agencies responsible for an aspect of the President's National Interest Determination and Presidential Permit decision regarding construction and operation of Keystone XL, to ensure that all necessary actions are taken on an expedited schedule. The bill would require the President to issue a final order granting or denying the Presidential Permit for Keystone XL 30 days after the issuance of the final environmental impact statement, but in no event later than November 1, 2011. H.R. 1938 would also make clear that no action made by the Secretary of Energy pursuant to this section shall affect any duty or responsibility to comply with any requirement to conduct environmental review. [GOP.gov, 7/27/11, emphasis added]
H.R. 3012 Would "Eliminate The Per-Country Numerical Limitation For Employment-Based Immigrants." According to GOP.gov:
H.R. 3012 would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to eliminate the per-country numerical limitation for employment-based immigrants, to increase the per-country numerical limitation for family-sponsored immigrants from seven percent to 15 percent.
The bill would also amend the Chinese Student Protection Act of 1992 to eliminate the provision requiring the reduction of annual Chinese (PRC) immigrant visas to offset status adjustments under such Act. [GOP.gov, 11/29/11]
HOLD ON H.R. 3012
Mr. GRASSLEY. Mr. President, I rise to inform my colleagues that I am placing a hold on H.R. 3012, the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act. This bill would eliminate the per-country numerical limitations for employment-based visas and increase the numerical cap for family-based immigrants. I have concerns about the impact of this bill on future immigration flows, and am concerned that it does nothing to better protect Americans at home who seek high-skilled jobs during this time of record high unemployment. [Government Printing Office, 11/30/11]
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