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Honorable Mark Sanford

Representing the 1st District of South Carolina

Vote Notes: Congressional Review Act, #1

Feb 7, 2017
Blog Post
Last week, the House of Representatives voted on five bills to repeal regulations enacted during the final months of the Obama administration.

Government agencies have increasingly taken on the role of creating de facto legislation in the form of rules. They do not get debated as legislation does. They are edicts from government and represent much of what people across this country are rebelling from and sick of….

The recent Obama administration regulations are particularly troubling, given that they were enacted in his final months in office, and, in fact 150 of these “midnight” rules were passed after President Trump was elected! They came with a cost of $21 billion in compliance costs - the most of any departing president in over a generation.

In this regard, I recently voted in favor of the REINS Act, which I had already co-sponsored twice, and the Regulatory Accountability Act - two bills that give more power to Congress to oversee executive agency rules.

These bills build upon the Congressional Review Act, a law that allows Congress to take a second look at costly regulations recently created by agencies to decide whether they should stand or fall.

Here are a few of last week's votes on regulation:

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Extraction Rule:
I voted to repeal this regulation that forces publicly-traded oil and mining companies to disclose all payments to foreign governments. While this may seem like a good way to stop corruption and bribes to foreign governments, that law is already on the books. Unlike China or France or a host of places around the globe, you go to jail in the USA if you do this. So why then does the SEC form its own rule that does the same as current law and only apply it to publicly-traded energy companies? I don’t know, but I do know that change on this front should come from Congress and not a regulatory body.

The Social Security Gun Check Rule:
I also voted to repeal another regulation - this one from the Social Security Administration. It requires people whose Social Security benefits are managed by another person be reported to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System in order to prohibit them from buying or owning a gun. Your son handles your social security paperwork and you lose a constitutionally enshrined right? That's not only unconstitutional, but it gives a sense of how far reaching these government edicts can be - with no due process. Federal law already prohibits people who have been deemed mentally ill by the courts from owning a firearm.

The Blacklisting Rule:
I voted to repeal a regulation that requires contractors who bid for federal projects to disclose workplace violations from the past three years from 14 different federal labor laws. This rule could punish companies - not only for convictions of labor law violations, but also for mere allegations. In this country, we live by the notion that you are innocent until proven guilty. This rule turns that principle upside down.

The Flaring Rule:
I voted to keep the Bureau of Land Management’s rule requiring oil and gas producers to use new technologies to cut down on the amount of methane they waste through leaks and intentional releases into the air. I voted to uphold this rule because it protects US taxpayers as much as the environment and had been in the works for years. In fact, the Government Accountability Office found in 2010 that taxpayers were losing almost $23 million annually in royalty payments from energy explorations operations on public land because of this practice. Resources that belong to the taxpayers just shouldn’t be wasted.

The Stream Protection Rule: 
Finally, about a year ago, I was one of only ten Republicans to vote against the Supporting Transparent Regulatory and Environmental Actions in Mining (STREAM) Act that would have delayed for three years the Department of the Interior’s Stream Protection Rule. This rule regulates mountaintop removal mining in order to protect rivers and streams. I support it because it too had been debated for years, and I believe it strikes the right balance between private property rights and other people’s right to drink clean water. A basic tenet of conservative thought is that my rights extend only to the point where they begin to infringe on yours.