Congressman Keith Rothfus

Representing the 12th District of Pennsylvania

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Johnstown Tribune-Democrat: Restoring control of nation to the people

Feb 21, 2017
Column

Tribune-Democrat
For decades, Washington has usurped the power and confiscated the wealth of ordinary Americans in ways our founders never envisioned. The founders established a limited government where sovereignty – the ultimate authority of the government – rests with the people. That is exactly what House Republicans are working to restore to our nation.

Today, however, it feels as if Washington bureaucrats and elites are the sovereign and the hardworking men and women of this country are subject to unelected regulators’ arbitrary actions. And because federal bureaucrats do not hold elected office and, for the most part, cannot be fired, they do not fear the repercussions of frustrated voters at the ballot box.  

To illustrate how far we have come from our founders’ vision, consider that President Barack Obama and his administration passed $890 billion in total regulatory burdens, including $24 billion in so-called midnight rules as a lame-duck president.

By 2015, the Obama administration had increased the country’s regulatory burden to a whopping $1.88 trillion, which translates to an economic burden of $15,000 per American family.

Fortunately, we now have a new president who wants to get this economy going, create jobs and increase wages for Americans – and who knows that cannot be done without regulatory reform.

Trump has signed several executive orders reversing the prior administration’s damaging regulations. For example, one of the Trump’s’s executive orders requires that for every new rule implemented, two must be removed.

These actions are promising, and will help reverse Washington’s regulatory onslaught. But I believe the people’s elected representatives in Congress – especially in the House – are primarily responsible for restoring authentic representative government and putting the people back in control of their lives.

When it comes to regulatory reform, we are off to a strong start in the 115th Congress.

We immediately passed the Midnight Rules Relief Act of 2017 to provide working men and women relief from some of Obama’s most harmful and costly last-minute “midnight” rules.

The Regulatory Accountability Act includes my provision that targets rules that are projected to have a negative impact on jobs and wages.

When people in a far-off capital take away the jobs and livelihood of working families, as they have done with miners, power-plant workers and boilermakers in my district, they should own up to it. The Regulatory Accountability Act also lets the public have a full say in the rule-making process.

The Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act, also known as the REINS Act, gives Congress a vote on any major rule that federal agencies make (one that has an economic impact of $100 million or more). The president would need to sign off on the regulation as well.

The REINS Act will go a long way toward restoring accountability in the regulatory process in a way we urgently need.

We are now in the process of passing several bills under the authority of the Congressional Review Act, which allows regulations to be overturned by Congress. Most notably for workers in the 12th Congressional District, we passed a bill that stops the Obama administration’s so-called Stream Protection Rule. This legislation creates regulatory uncertainty by duplicating and overlapping existing environmental laws and regulations, and, ultimately, it has a single purpose: to end the coal industry and the thousands of middle-class jobs that depend on it. It must be stopped.

In all of these efforts, our aim is not deregulation. We want to remove poorly-crafted, harmful regulations and replace them with smart and right-sized regulations that allow the American people to grow the economy.

That is the animating principle behind the regulatory reform bills we have already passed this Congress, and it will continue to direct our work throughout the 115th Congress.

To learn more and follow my work in Congress, visit my website at rothfus.house.gov.

U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus represents Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District, which includes parts of Cambria and Somerset counties.