U.S. Chamber Calls for Fewer Regulations

A twist on the old saying is if it’s broke, fix it. That’s the opinion of U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tom Donohue’s 2017 Growth Agenda. Donohue said an unelected fourth branch of government – the regulatory branch – is holding our small business sector back while imposing unnecessary costs on larger companies, too.

Our country’s businesses simply can’t grow and create jobs if they are constantly being burdened by increasingly complex and expensive regulations, Donohue said. The existing regulatory process has generally worked well in managing routine matters but the system does not work for the most complex and high-cost regulations. “The U.S. Chamber believes that Congress needs to re-examine how these critical rules are being written since they govern huge swaths of the U.S. economy,” he said.

To help straighten out the process, the Chamber proposes bipartisan principles that should guide regulatory reform: accountability, participation, and transparency. The Regulatory Accountability Act of 2017 (H.R. 5) passed the House of Representatives on Jan. 11 by a bipartisan vote of 238-183 after a huge show of support from the business community.

The RAA, which only increases scrutiny on the most costly rules, is the first attempt to substantively amend the Administrative Procedure Act, the regulatory guidebook for federal agencies, since its enactment in 1946, the Chamber said. A letter of support from 616 business groups was signed by the Business Council of Alabama and sent to Senate leadership.

“The RAA is just one opportunity that Congress and the Trump administration have to reform the regulatory process and roll back growth-killing rules,” Donohue said. “We look forward to working with lawmakers and the president to get our rules right.”

U.S. Senate Approves New EPA Chief

The U.S. Senate voting 52-46 today confirmed Oklahoma attorney general as the new administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt cleared the Senate by a vote of 52-46, winning support from two Democrats. Republicans said Pruitt will bring much-needed change to an agency that exemplifies eight years of executive overreach by the administration of former President Obama.

“The nominee before us … thinks it’s time for the EPA to get back to the clean air and clean water business instead, and to do so with an appreciation for the complexity of our modern world,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on the Senate floor. “He’s dedicated to environmental protection. And, as someone with state government experience, he understands the real-world consequences of EPA actions and knows that balance is the key to making policies that are sustainable over the long-term.”

Pruitt will be responsible for implementing an aggressive deregulatory campaign that Trump outlined on the campaign trail and that the GOP has long sought. Trump promised to roll back Obama’s entire climate change agenda, including the Clean Power Plan, which sets carbon dioxide limits for power plants. He also pledged to repeal the EPA’s Clean Water Rule, which asserts federal power over small waterways like ponds and streams.

Trump said any new regulations will be judged on whether they benefit workers, and he would refocus the EPA’s mission on clean air and water.

“A regulator should not be for or against any sector of our economy,” Pruitt said. “Instead, a regulator ought to follow law in setting up the rules so that those who are regulated can plan, allocate resources to meet the standards, versus operating in a state of uncertainty and duress.”


GOP Leaders Provide New Details About ObamaCare Plan
The HILL (Sullivan 2/16) “House Republican leaders on Thursday presented to their members the most detailed look yet at their plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare, though some key elements remain to be worked out. A packet distributed to lawmakers at the meeting and obtained by The Hill says the GOP bill will include tax credits, an expansion of Health Savings Accounts, money for high risk pools to care for the sick, and a major restructuring of Medicaid to cap federal payments.

“The plan calls for a refundable, advanceable tax credit to help people afford healthcare coverage. The tax credit would be based on a person’s age, not their income, in contrast to ObamaCare. The plan also calls for repealing ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion ‘in its current form’. After a transition period, states could choose to keep Medicaid open to the newly eligible people, but they would no longer receive extra federal funding to cover the cost. Instead, states would be reimbursed at the traditional, lower rates. That means states would have to put more money into the program if they wanted to keep the expansion.

“The plan also calls for a ‘per-capita cap’ for Medicaid, which means the traditional, open-ended federal commitment would be converted into a capped payment to states. The amount would take into account the number of people in the program, in contrast to a simple block grant. Republicans say it is a way to limit federal spending and give more control to states.”

Trump Picks Former Labor Board Member for Labor Secretary
The HILL (Smilowitz 2/16) “President Trump (picked) Alexander Acosta as his nominee to head the Labor Department. Acosta is a former member of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and is currently the dean of Florida International University’s law school. A Republican, Acosta served on the NLRB from December 2002 to August 2003 and authored more than 125 opinions, according to his bio on FIU’s website.

“President Donald Trump announced his nomination of Alexander Acosta as Labor secretary and said he would be ‘tremendous’ in the job. A Harvard law graduate, he was appointed by President George W. Bush in 2003 to be the assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. Acosta was the first Hispanic U.S. assistant attorney general and longest serving U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida. He would be the first Hispanic that Trump has nominated to a Cabinet position.

“While U.S. attorney, Mr. Acosta prosecuted high-profile defendants, including Jack Abramoff and Jose Padilla. Mr. Acosta has served as chairman of U.S. Century Bank in Miami since late 2013. Mr. Trump’s initial pick for labor secretary, Mr. Puzder, withdrew on Wednesday after Republican support in the Senate weakened over personal issues that dogged the fast-food executive leading up to his planned confirmation hearing.”