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Using Congress to undermine laws

In his June 7 column, “Hauling in the REINS,” George F. Will praised the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act as a way to “claw back” responsibilities from the executive branch that rightfully belong to Congress. Mr. Will seemed to have forgotten that agencies can only create regulations to implement laws established by Congress and approved by the president. Requiring Congress to back every effort to carry out a law would mean that either chamber could simply do nothing — and thereby stop the reforms in the Dodd-Frank financial legislation from being implemented or health and safety standards from being modernized to reflect up-to-date scientific understanding. In short, the REINS Act is an attempt by a minority in Congress to undermine the power of the executive branch to implement laws.

In practice, REINS would prevent regulatory agencies from issuing vital new rules or even from trying to do so. The Senate is right to block this ill-conceived, unworkable piece of legislation.

Katherine McFate and Robert Weissman, Washington

The writers are co-chairs of the Coalition for Sensible Safeguards and, respectively, the presidents of OMB Watch and Public Citizen.

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