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COLUMN: Actions Speak Louder than Words on Reducing Burdensome Federal Regulations

January 25, 2016
Weekly Column and Op-Ed
By Rep. Dan Newhouse

If you listened to President Obama’s final State of the Union speech earlier this month, you would think that the President was focused on reducing burdensome federal regulations that stymie private economic growth. In his address, the President said something I, along with many Americans, can agree with: “I believe a thriving private sector is the lifeblood of our economy. I think there are outdated regulations that need to be changed. There is red tape that needs to be cut.” During seven years in the White House, if only his administration actually took steps to live up to this and grant relief to businesses and individuals swimming in federal red tape.

Last week, the President had the opportunity to follow through with his commitment to reduce  federal red tape and have a dramatic impact on private landowners, small businesses, farmers, and ranchers. However, we have seen the opposite. The Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are attempting to grow the regulatory reach of the federal government beyond authority under the Clean Water Act. Under the proposed "Waters of the United States" (WOTUS) rule, the federal government’s jurisdiction over waters that have a “significant nexus” with a navigable body of water would expand to include streams, ditches and ponds. The WOTUS rule would encroach on state and local authority on waters, giving EPA the unprecedented authority including telling farmers how they can use their own cropland.

The rule is currently being challenged in the courts. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has even temporarily blocked the rule from going into effect. We, the people’s representatives in Congress, have even voted to reject the Administration’s top-down, government-knows-best approach. The House approved a resolution of disapproval to vacate the WOTUS rule by a vote of 253-166, and the Senate voted also voted 53-44 to  reject the rule. Instead of listening to Congress and the American people, the President vetoed this bipartisan resolution that would do just what he said he wanted to do: cut red tape.

If the President wants to reduce excessive red tape, he could also support the Searching for and Cutting Regulations that are Unnecessarily Burdensome (SCRUB) Act. I co-sponsored this bill to review the Federal Regulatory Code and make recommendations on which regulations are obsolete, unnecessarily burdensome, and should be repealed to reduce the cost to the economy. The House passed this bill on a bipartisan vote of 245-174.

I am committed to opposing the federal power grab over America’s waters and waterways, and I will vote to override the President’s veto. If the President truly wants to reduce red tape on behalf of American individuals, farmers, and small businesses, Congress will give him that opportunity.