Stand up for facts and support PolitiFact.

Now is your chance to go on the record as supporting trusted, factual information by joining PolitiFact’s Truth Squad. Contributions or gifts to PolitiFact, which is part of the 501(c)(3) nonprofit Poynter Institute, are tax deductible.

More Info

I would like to contribute

Louis Jacobson
By Louis Jacobson January 7, 2013

Measure passed the House, died in the Senate

During the 2010 midterm elections, House Republicans pledged to "require congressional approval of any new federal regulation that has an annual cost to our economy of $100 million or more."

A bill that subsequently passed the House -- the Regulations from the Executive In Need of Scrutiny Act -- introduced significant new limitations on the power of executive agencies to make rules. But the bill got just four Democratic votes and went nowhere in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
   
The REINS Act requires congressional approval of a major rule -- one that has an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more -- before it can take effect. A rule may also be considered major if it results in a significant increase in costs or prices, or if it has significant adverse effects on competition, employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or U.S. competitiveness.
   
Under the measure, Congress must approve the rule within a certain time period, and if it doesn't, the rule is deemed not to have been approved and will not take effect, although there are a few exceptions, such as an imminent threat to health or safety, the need to enforce criminal laws, to support national security or to implement an international trade agreement.

On Dec. 7, 2011, almost a year after the REINS Act was introduced, the House passed it by a 241-184 margin. All 237 Republicans voting supported it, and all but four of the 188 Democrats who voted opposed it.

To be sent to the president, such a bill would have needed to receive Senate approval, but once there, it languished in committee. Pledge-O-Meter ratings are based on outcomes -- and this one fizzled. So we rate this a Promise Broken.

Angie Drobnic Holan
By Angie Drobnic Holan August 26, 2011

REINS Act introduced

House Republicans vowed to stop increased federal regulation during the campaign of 2010. One of their bills introduces significant new limitations on the power of executive agencies to make rules.

It's called the REINS Act -- as in, putting the reins on the federal government -- and it stands for Regulations from the Executive In Need of Scrutiny. 

It requires congressional approval of a major rule -- one that has an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more -- before it can take effect. A rule may also be considered major if it results in a significant increase in costs or prices, or if it has significant adverse effects on competition, employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or U.S. competitiveness, according to a summary of the bill from the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service. 

The bill says that if Congress doesn't approve the rule within a certain time period, the rule is deemed not to have been approved and it shall not take effect, though it does grant certain exceptions. Rules not approved by Congress may take effect because of an imminent threat to health or safety or other emergency, for the enforcement of criminal laws, for national security, or to implement an international trade agreement.
The bill's sponsor is Rep. Geoff Davis, R-Ky., who has a website with more information about the bill. In May 2011, the House Republican leadership included the bill as part of their "Plan for America's Job Creators," a package of legislation aimed at stimulating economic growth.

The REINS Act has been discussed in hearings in the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Commercial and Administrative Law, and its next step is a markup in the full House Judiciary Committee, followed by consideration by the House of Representatives, according to Davis's staff.

To achieve final passage, such a bill would need to receive Senate approval and the signature of the president (or another vote to override a veto). 

For now, though, we rate this promise In the Works.

Latest Fact-checks