If Democrats want a less-powerful Trump, there’s a REINS Act for that
Last month, the U.S. House passed the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act by a vote of 237-187. Only two Democrats supported the measure, which would require regulations with an economic impact of more than $100 million to be approved by Congress before they take effect.
You read that correctly. House Republicans voted to shift power away from the Republican president. It’s proof that they’re serious about restoring the balance of powers between the three branches of government and Democrats aren’t.
Now it’s on to the Senate, where Democrats apparently prefer that Trump have every bit as much rulemaking power as Barack Obama did. The alternative would mean that Congress be held accountable for the most significant federal rules that typical Americans must accommodate.
Senate Republicans could pass the REINS Act without any Democrats, but Democrats currently hold the power of the filibuster. Without at least eight votes from Democrats or the chamber’s two independents, we won’t find out if Senate Republicans had the political courage to restore Congress to its rightful role. They’ll simply blame Democrats for filibustering the REINS Act.
Indeed, many Senate Republicans might be content with Trump being able to gut Obama’s regulatory agenda unilaterally, push through rules conservatives want and operate without having to ask Congress for much of anything. It’s not the way our government is meant to operate, but past presidents have been more than happy to use rulemaking to sidestep Congress.
House Republicans literally sent Democrats legislation that would radically limit Trump’s rulemaking power, but yet, they’re set to oppose it. That opposition made sense when Obama was in the White House. Democrats didn’t want to shift the president’s clout to a Republican Congress. That’s not an excuse anymore.
The truth is that Democrats are more in love with the power of the presidency than with the checks and balances of our republic. They want the presidency as strong as possible for the next time a Democrat wins our nation’s highest office. When they say they want to stop Trump from being an authoritarian, tyrant or dictator, what they really mean is that they’d like a Democrat authoritarian, tyrant or dictator. If that weren’t the case, the REINS Act would be an easy vote.
Democrats are unlikely to take back the Senate in 2018, but they won’t have the White House for least four years. If they did take the Senate, the REINS Act would force Trump agency heads to negotiate regulations with Democrats or risk defeat. That’s a powerful tool.
If you want to see what a politician really believes, look at his or her votes. By that measure, Republicans are far more serious about reining in the executive branch and shifting accountability closer to the American people.
Congressional Democrats will protest and deliver powerful promises about holding President Trump accountable. But when it comes to voting on a bill that would actually do it, their words ring far more hollow than President Trump’s campaign rhetoric. At least he seems serious about making good on his promises.
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