Current Events vs. Founding Documents

This column presents facts regarding the United States Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Wisconsin State Constitution, and various other documents in reference to modern topics. Mark hopes to encourage interest in those works so that others can consider whether our government is practicing within its constitutional limits. In the last category, he may indicate his opinion. Mark is a resident of New Berlin. Readers are encouraged to visit the following sites for more information on the United States Constitution and Thomas Jefferson's views on politics and government.

REINS Act is a Good First Step

executive power, Constitution, Legislative branch

Entry 119

Current Event


According to The Washington Post, 12/07/2011 (full article available on-line)

The House on Wednesday approved a measure that would increase Congress’s authority over the executive branch by making any major regulations subject to its approval.

The REINS Act, H.R. 10, also known as the Regulations From the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act, passed the House on a 241-to-184 vote, with four Democrats joining all Republicans present to vote “yes.” The measure was sponsored in January by Rep. Geoff Davis (R-Ky.).

The bill is unlikely to be taken up by the Democratic-controlled Senate, and even if it were to pass the chamber, President Obama has issued a veto threat.

Under the 1996 Congressional Review Act, Congress already has the power to override proposed regulations by passing a joint “resolution of disapproval.” But such a resolution faces the hurdle of having to be signed into law by the president, who would likely veto any move to do away with a regulation proposed by his or her own administration. The president’s veto can be overriden by Congress, but that, of course, takes a two-thirds vote in both chambers.

Congress has only successfully wielded its power under the Congressional Review Act once before, in 2001, when it voted to do away with a Department of Labor ergonomics regulation.

The REINS Act would change the process so that major regulations would be contingent on congressional approval -- if a majority in each chamber does not vote “yes,” the regulation is not enacted.

At a news conference Wednesday morning with House Republican leaders, Davis argued that the bill “has the potential to transform the way Washington does business, to restore us to economic dominance, and to make this an American century.”

“It’s very simple,” he said. “When a rule is scored as a major rule -- $100 million or more in cumulative economic impact -- instead of it being forced on the American people at the end of the 60-day comment period, it comes back up to Capitol Hill under joint resolution for a stand-alone vote in the House, a stand-alone vote in the Senate, and then must be signed by the president before it can be enforced on the American people.”

In floor remarks Wednesday, Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) touted the measure as a “common sense” bill that would spur job creation.

“It forces accountability,” he said. “It simply weighs the benefits of a regulation to be balanced with the cost to our own jobs. Jobs ought to be number one in this House, and the number one jobs bill we can pass is the REINS Act.”


Democrats contend that the measure would hamper the regulatory process, increase uncertainty and allow Congress to do away with some regulations that are necessary in order to protect consumers.

The White House on Tuesday issued a veto threat against the measure, which it argued would bring about a “radical departure from the longstanding separation of powers” that would “delay and, in many cases, thwart implementation of statutory mandates and execution of duly enacted laws, increase business uncertainty, undermine much-needed protections of the American public, and create unnecessary confusion.”

“By replacing [the current] well-established framework with a blanket requirement of Congressional approval, H.R. 10 would throw all major regulations into a months-long limbo, fostering uncertainty and impeding business investment that is vital to economic growth,” the White House said in its statement.



Executive Branch vs. Legislative Branch and The Constitution


Founding Document

US Constitution, Article II (The powers of the President)

Section 2:The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to Grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.

He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.

Section 3: He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.

We the People:


The White House’s claim that this would violate the separation of powers is untrue because the power to make or revise laws (rules) rests only with the legislative branch.  The executive powers are limited to those listed above.  However, since the modern practice is out of line with the Constitutional limits, the REINS act is a good first step for Congress to restore checks and balances.


Notice how the Democrats are concerned about hampering the regulatory process of the executive branch; and they want to do it for the children.  This is one way that tyrants and bureaucrats cling to their illegitimate power.


Well, the House of Representative did its job.  Now it is time for the Senate.  Why don’t you call your US Senator and ask them to support this legislation?

For US Senate, go to

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