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Budget Amendments Threaten Public Protections, Coalition Claims

March 22, 2013
A group calling itself the Coalition for Sensible Safeguards claims amendments under consideration during the Budget Resolution of 2013 vote threaten public protections and safeguards by altering the regulatory process to make it more difficult to pass regulations that protect Americans from harm.

The Coalition for Sensible Safeguards (CSS) called on lawmakers to vote “no” on measures that include proposals to require new cost-benefit analyses, seek a moratorium on regulations until unemployment falls below a certain point, bring independent agencies under review by the Office of Management and Budget and change the regulatory process in a way the coalition members claim “inappropriately injects political considerations in passing new rules that are supposed to be based on objective agency science and expertise.”

The coalition maintains that the measures would undermine effective standards and safeguards that provide health, safety and financial security for American families and are key to a strong economy. A key issue is that the proposed amendments would delay or shut down the implementation of health and safety protections.

“Giant corporations are hoping to sneak provisions into the rushed Senate budget bill to undermine the core regulatory protections on which Americans rely to make our country stronger, better, safer, cleaner, healthier and more fair and just,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen and CSS co-chair. “Their congressional allies are proposing amendments to the budget bill that would block enforcement of existing rules and impede agencies from issuing new ones. “

For example, Amendment 174 calls for federal agencies to consider the “full cost of regulations, including indirect job losses and the negative health impacts of indirect job losses, prior to enacting or amending any regulation or rule.”

The Environmental Protection Agency is already required to do multiple cost benefit analyses for every rule,” said Scott Slesinger, legislative director for the Natural Resources Defense Council. “More redundant requirements is just a tool of polluters to slow down protections in a continuous loop of paralysis by analysis. The only winners would be polluters who put their costs ahead of the health of the ublic.”

Amendment 215 requires agencies, when assessing the costs and benefits of regulations, to include the indirect jobs impact of a regulation on “manufacturing,” a move the could impact the promulgation of OSHA standards. The coalition asserts that this is an impossible requirement to meet because manufacturing is much too broad a category and there are no bounds to what constitutes an “indirect” jobs impact.

“The indiscriminate cuts under sequestration will already make it harder for agencies to enforce and improve critical standards and safeguards,” said Katherine McFate, president and CEO of the Center for Effective Government and CSS co-chair. “The last thing we need are damaging budget amendments that would throw up more roadblocks to protecting American families and communities.”

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