House Republicans Take Aim at Biden Administration Regulations
After repeatedly failing to overturn Biden administration regulations in legislation, House Republicans are taking the next steps in their attempt to exert authority over the administrative state.
Lawmakers discussed a series of bills intended to reach those ends during a June 5 Rules Committee hearing.
“The Constitution articulates where the laws are made. It’s here in Congress,” said Committee Chair Tom Cole (R-Okla.) in his opening remarks.
Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Pa.), by contrast, said the proposals show that the House Republican majority “once again prioritizes right-wing culture wars over the American people.” Right-leaning ideology prioritizes individual liberty over the government intervention preferred by the left.
Two of the four bills are specifically concerned with regulatory efforts directed at gas stoves. In recent months, both the Department of Energy and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) have moved on those appliances.
- The Gas Stove Protection and Freedom Act would prevent the CPSC from banning or substantially raising the price of gas stoves.
- The Save Our Stoves Act would keep the Department of Energy from implementing a proposed energy efficiency rule for gas stoves.
Concerns about a ban were ignited in part by comments from CPSC Commissioner Richard Trumka, Jr., to Bloomberg News in January.
“This is a hidden hazard. Any option is on the table. Products that can’t be made safe can be banned,” he said.
Fears of a federal gas stove ban are also influenced by emerging restrictions at the state and local levels.
In early May, New York passed a state budget that would phase out gas stoves in new construction.
“Everybody who has a gas stove–enjoy it. Keep your gas stove. But new buildings that are going up, they can go electric, they can do heat pumps,” New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said during a May 2 appearance on FOX 5’s “Good Day New York.”
Meanwhile, the Ninth Circuit overturned Berkeley, California’s similar gas stove ban in new buildings this April.
“By completely prohibiting the installation of natural gas piping within newly constructed buildings, the City of Berkeley has waded into a domain preempted by Congress,” Judge Patrick J. Bumatay ruled in an opinion that met with concurrences from two of his colleagues.
REINS on Administrative State
The hearing also considered two bills meant to increase oversight of the administrative state–that is, the complex array of agencies and similar bodies primarily organized under the executive branch but sometimes considered an unofficial fourth branch of government.
- The REINS Act would require Congress to approve major regulations from agencies before they could take effect.
- The Separation of Powers Restoration Act of 2023 (SOPRA) would subject proposed regulations to judicial scrutiny without deferring to the agency’s own internal review process.
Scanlon said REINS could “bring government operations to a grinding halt.” She asserted it might constitute a legislative veto. Such maneuvers have been unconstitutional since 1983 thanks to the Supreme Court case INS v. Chadha.
Scanlon and other Democrats emphasized the availability of other Congressional mechanisms to support their claim that the REINS Act is unnecessary. They cited the joint resolution of disapproval, a tool created by the Congressional Review Act that can allow both chambers to come together against a newly issued rule.
Yet, Republicans argued that recent history shows the ineffectiveness of that tool.
“Just in the 118th Congress, both the House and the Senate passed legislation to overturn the unlawful WOTUS [Waters of the United States] rule as issued by the EPA, to overturn the tariff repeal on solar panels made in China, and to overturn the radical ESG requirements issued by federal agencies. Yet each of those times, the President of the United States vetoed the actions of the House of Representatives,” Cole said.
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