4:15 PM EST

Gerry Connolly, D-VA 11th

Mr. CONNOLLY. Mr. Chairman, as someone who comes from local government, I was encouraged last week to hear the Speaker call for us to find common ground. I know firsthand the music that can be made when elected officials allow their commitments to improving the quality of life for our neighbors to guide their actions rather than partisan ideology.

Sadly, we are only 2 weeks into the new Congress, and the House majority has brought to the floor a string of divisive bills. Last week we debated without amendment a plan to bypass the normal review process to expedite approval of the Keystone pipeline for the 10th time, and today we consider a repeat of anti-public health and safety legislation that was debated and defeated in the 112th and 113th Congresses.

The seductively titled Regulatory Accountability Act would actually effectively block new Federal regulation and is nothing more than a backdoor attempt to roll back important public health and safety protections. What is more, my friends on the other side claim they want to reduce regulatory burdens, but their bill adds more than 70 new analytical steps to the final rulemaking process while jeopardizing science-based methodology.

The Union of Concerned Scientists warns that if this bill becomes law, Mr. Chairman, agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission would all be subject to more special interest interference, would be much more vulnerable to legal challenges, and even if those challenges are crucial to protecting our air and water and safeguarding public health, they could prevail. That is why I offer what should be, I hope, a simple

amendment to exempt any rule or guidance pertaining to public health or safety.

This bill directs agencies to adopt the least costly regulatory action, notwithstanding any other provision of law, meaning that the benefits of safeguards to protect the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat would be considered secondary to the cost of those safeguards, even if the benefits exceed the costs.

My friends falsely claim that regulations impose unreasonable costs on the economy and industry. The facts don't justify that rhetoric. OMB's latest report to Congress on Federal regulation found the monetized benefits of Federal regulations over the past decade alone are significantly higher by a factor of 10 than the costs. But why let facts trump belief?

An American Lung Association survey found that three out of four respondents feel we should not have to choose between protecting health and safety and promoting the economy. They understand we must and can do both.

Mr. Chairman, I am curious if my friends on the other side have asked their constituents what they think. For example, I wonder if the residents near North Carolina coal ash spills--which is affecting drinking water there and in my home State of Virginia--share the same disdain for water quality regulation. Maybe we should ask the millions of parents who own a child car seat subject to a nationwide recall if they would feel better with less rigorous safety standards for their children.

My friends continue to perpetuate this notion that government regulation is a heavy boot on the throat of business, but a poll conducted by the American Sustainable Business Council found 78 percent of employers believe responsible regulation is important for protecting small businesses from unfair competition and leveling the playing field.

4:18 PM EST

Gerry Connolly, D-VA 11th

Mr. CONNOLLY. I thank my friend from Michigan.

Mr. Chairman, my amendment is an important step to protecting public health and safety. It will ensure the lifesaving benefits of protecting air quality, water quality, and food safety so that they are not automatically ruled out because of the cost alone. It will ensure, for example, that the CFPB can proceed with Dodd-Frank regulations protecting Americans from risky practices that led to the financial crisis and save lives by allowing the FDA to continue implementing provisions of the bipartisan

Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.

Mr. Chairman, I urge my colleagues to support this amendment and protect the public health and safety of our communities.

I yield back the balance of my time.

4:19 PM EST

Gerry Connolly, D-VA 11th

Mr. CONNOLLY. I thank my friend from Michigan.

Mr. Chairman, my amendment is an important step to protecting public health and safety. It will ensure the lifesaving benefits of protecting air quality, water quality, and food safety so that they are not automatically ruled out because of the cost alone. It will ensure, for example, that the CFPB can proceed with Dodd-Frank regulations protecting Americans from risky practices that led to the financial crisis and save lives by allowing the FDA to continue implementing provisions of the bipartisan

Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.

Mr. Chairman, I urge my colleagues to support this amendment and protect the public health and safety of our communities.

I yield back the balance of my time.

4:19 PM EST

Bob Goodlatte, R-VA 6th

Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Chairman, this amendment exempts from the bill any rule or guidance pertaining to health or public safety. Health and public safety regulation done properly serve important goals, and the bill does nothing to frustrate the effective achievement of those goals.

But Federal health and public safety regulation constitutes an immense part of total Federal regulation and has been the source of many of the most abusive, unnecessarily expensive, and job-and-wage destroying regulations. To remove these areas of regulation from the bill would be to severely weaken the bill's important reforms to lower the crushing cumulative costs of Federal regulation.

Consider, for example, testimony before the Judiciary Committee last term by Rob James, a city councilman from Avon Lake, Ohio, about the impacts of new and excessive regulation on his town, its workers, and its families.

Avon Lake is a small town facing devastation by ideologically driven, antifossil-fuel power plant regulations. These regulations are expected to destroy jobs in Avon Lake, harm Avon Lake's families, and make it even harder for Avon Lake to find the resources to provide emergency services, quality schools, and help for its neediest citizens--all while doing comparatively little to control mercury emissions that are the stated target of the regulations.

Let me point out to the gentleman and anyone else concerned that health and safety regulations are a tantamount concern of this legislation. In fact, I will quote from page 19 of the bill:

The agency shall adopt a rule only on the basis of the best reasonably obtainable scientific, technical, economic, and other evidence and information concerning the need for, consequences of, and alternatives to the rule.

I will also point out that the American Council of Independent Laboratories supports this legislation.

Mr. Chairman, I urge my colleagues to oppose the amendment, and I yield back the balance of my time.

The Acting CHAIR. The question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Connolly).

The question was taken; and the Acting Chair announced that the noes appeared to have it.