Bureaucrats made accountable to elected officials? Eek!

March 09, 2017 | By TONY FRANCOIS

Our Congressional Review Act project (have you seen the latest at RedTapeRollback.com? Why not?) is starting to ruffle the right feathers: progressive media sites and activists have noticed that their pet regulatory excesses, especially underground rules, are very vulnerable to disapproval under the Congressional Review Act.

For example, one site reports on last week’s conference on the Congressional Review Act and related matters, at the Center for the Study of the Administrative State at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School. PLF’s own Todd Gaziano was one of the panelists, and his comments (and our RedTapeRollback.com website) are featured prominently in the aforementioned article.

The article makes one major error in its explanation of the Congressional Review Act: it says that it is limited to review of “economically significant regulations.” But a cursory examination of the text of the law shows that the Act requires all rules (defined to include informal policy guidance in addition to formal notice and comment regulations), major or not, be submitted to Congress before they can take effect.

Aside from this inaccuracy, the article is telling for its lack of legal argument against the obligation of agencies to submit even their old and informal rules to Congress, and Congress’ power to disapprove them under the Act. That point is conceded.

Lacking legal argument, the article advances its argument with a creepy theme: the Congressional Review Act is a knife in the back of health and safety protection, wielded by psychotic members of congress whose twisted purpose in life is to destroy the only thing that protects people from the horrors of daily life: the administrative state. The article even features not one but two Norman Bates themed images.

When all the other side can muster is cartoonish rhetoric and, well, cartoons, you known you are winning the argument.

“Is this a dagger which I see before me?” When the constitutional structure of government threatens your priorities, perhaps any effort to restore that structure feels like a knife in the back.