House Passes Bill Requiring Congressional Approval of Federal Regulations ‘Costing’ Over $100 Million

Jeffrey ErnstFriedman | December 08, 2011

Dec 7, 2011 - The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a bill known as the REINS Act (HR 10). No Republicans voted against passage, while only four Democrats voted in favor of passage.

The REINS Act would rewrite provisions regarding congressional review of agency rulemaking to require congressional approval of major rules of the executive branch before they may take effect. Currently, major rules take effect unless Congress passes and the President signs a joint resolution disapproving them. The bill defines a "major rule" as any rule, including an interim final rule, that has resulted in or is likely to result in:

  1. an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more;
  2. a major increase in costs or prices; or
  3. significant adverse effects on competition, employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or U.S. competitiveness.

The bill is supported by a wide spectrum of organizations, including the Associated General Contractors of America, the Association for Manufacturing Technology, the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, the Forging Industry Association, the Independent Petroleum Association of America, the Industrial Energy Consumers of America, the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, the National Mining Association, the US Chamber of Commerce, and the Western Energy Alliance.

The measure is opposed by a variety of health policy groups, minority groups, environmental protection groups and unions, including AFL-CIO, the American Federation of Teachers, the American Lung Association, the Center for Food Safety, Friends of the Earth, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund, the National Women's Health Network, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Transport Workers Union of America, the Trust For America’s Health, and the United Steelworkers.

Amongst All Lawmakers

  • Interest groups that supported this motion (Industrial/commercial equipment & materials, Independent oil & gas producers, Coal mining, Livestock, Builders associations, Electronics manufacturing & services, etc.) gave on average 3.8 times as much to House members who voted 'YES' ($81,450) as they gave to House members who voted 'NO' ($21,647).
  • Interest groups that opposed this motion (Teachers unions, Food service & related unions, Minority/Ethnic Groups, Elderly issues/Social Security, etc.) gave on average 8.1 times as much to House members who voted 'NO' ($140,975) as they gave to House members who voted 'YES' ($17,474).

Amongst House Democrats

  • Specific interest groups in favor of passage, such as Independent oil & gas producers, Livestock, and Mining, gave on average 13 times as much to House Democrats who voted 'YES' ($31,745) as they gave to House Democrats who voted 'NO' ($2,365). 
  • Specific interest groups opposing passage, such as Building trades unions, Teachers unions, Manufacturing unions, Air transport unions, Teamsters unions, State & local govt employee unions, Federal employees unions, Food service & related unions, Automotive Unions, Other transportation unions, and Other unions, gave on average 2.25 times as much to House Democrats who voted 'NO' ($104,498) as they gave to House Democrats who voted 'YES' ($46,375).

Amongst House Republicans

  • House Republicans received on average over 5 times as much from interest groups that supported this motion ($82,001) as they received from interest groups that opposed this motion ($16,327). No Republicans voted against the measure.

METHODLOGY: MapLight analysis of reported contributions to congressional campaigns of House members in office on day of vote, from interest groups invested in the vote according to MapLight, July 1, 2009 – June 30, 2011. Contributions data source: