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Up on the Hill, reg relief battle heats up with little fanfare

Capitol HillWatchdog group OMBWatch reports anti-regulatory activists in both the House and the Senate have been hard at work, arousing little notice, attempting to dismantle or derail federal regulatory processes.

On Nov. 3, the Senate rejected S. 1786, the Long-Term Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2011. This bill, which was offered as the Republican alternative to the Democrats' transportation and infrastructure jobs bill, included two anti-regulatory provisions: the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act and the Regulatory Time-Out Act.

If REINS took effect, Congress would have to approve every major rule issued by any government agency before the rule could take effect.

The Regulatory Time-Out Act would impose a one-year moratorium on new regulatory actions by government agencies.

S. 1786 failed 47-53 on a procedural vote. OMBWatch in the coming weeks expects more reg rollback attacks in the Senate.

The House Judiciary Committee drafted a bill requiring agencies to always choose the "least costly" alternative rule. Ultimately, the bill was reported out of the Judiciary Committee on a 16-6 vote, with many Democratic committee members unable to vote because Chairman Smith held the vote hours earlier than promised, at the same time that many Democratic members were meeting with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan.

The reg alternative bill and REINS are ready for floor action.

The Obama administration issued a strong Statement of Administration Policy, which centered on the bill's anti-regulatory provisions and contained a strong veto threat.

Still, a plethora of reg relief bills are pending before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee chaired by Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), according to OMBWatch.\

Reports OMBWatch: “Considering Senate Republicans' willingness to resort to amendments and procedural maneuvering to push their anti-regulatory agenda, Americans, all of whom benefit from our system of regulatory safeguards, will have to pay close attention to developments on the floor.”

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