Weekly Columns

President Ronald Reagan, well known for his oratorical skills, delivered one of the best lines on how an effective government should operate during his first inaugural address. Standing on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, he told the American people the way to fix Washington was to make government “work with us, not over us; to stand by our side, not ride our back.”

Regulations that protect consumers, borrowers and the environment improve the quality of life for all Americans. They ensure we have safe food to eat, access to credit at fair rates and clean air to breathe. When properly devised, they closely follow President Regan’s philosophy of making government “stand by our side, not ride our back.”

When agencies overregulate, the rights of law-abiding Americans are ignored and our economic growth comes to a grinding halt. Overbearing, excessive regulations take farmers away from tending to their crops, slow the lines at manufacturing plants and sap resources that could otherwise be put toward hiring more Americans. Someone who normally would be doing work that creates revenue is taken off task for a considerable amount of time to fill out burdensome paperwork.

Overregulation became the norm during President Obama’s administration. Rather than working with Congress—the direct representatives of the American people—to resolve our country’s issues, President Obama used the regulatory process to enact his own agenda. Under his direction, agencies issued regulations at such a rapid pace that the New York Times dubbed him the “Regulator-in-Chief.”

Congress has been moving quickly to deliver on its promise to reverse ill-advised and economically damaging Obama-era regulations by using the powers granted to the Senate and the House of Representatives through the Congressional Review Act. This law allows Congress to overturn any new regulation, within sixty days of its submission, with a joint resolution of disapproval. 

So far, the Senate has passed resolutions of disapproval to eliminate misguided regulations that threatened thousands of American coal workers’ jobs, placed unreasonable compliance burdens on our energy sector and potentially deprived seniors and disabled Americans of their Second Amendment rights without due process. 

Confirming cabinet nominees is another important step that the Senate will play in this process. The new administration shares this view of overregulation and is putting forth nominees who will work support our efforts to address it. Scott Pruitt, the new Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is a perfect example of a someone who will be a strong partner in our efforts. During President Obama’s administration, the EPA became the poster child for overregulation. For the past eight years, the agency acted as a political arm of the Obama administration by developing rules not based on sound science, but political ideology. When rules are being released, states, the private sector and even Congress have had trouble getting the EPA to show the science that helped develop these rules. 

Finally, I will work with my colleagues to pass meaningful reform, such as the REINS Act, which I am cosponsoring, to bring commonsense to the rule making process.

Our system of government grants the executive branch the ability to make regulations. In doing so, we entrust agency officials with the responsibility of making sensible rules that do not encroach on our freedoms. When regulations go too far, Congress has a responsibility to protect the rights of the American people. We’ve taken the first steps of many to roll back regulations and I look forward to working with my colleagues and the White House moving forward.