In 2013 alone, the Federal Register published more than 80,000 pages of newly proposed rules, regulations, and notices. While growth of the executive branch of government is nothing new, the Obama Administration has increasingly bypassed Congress and governed through the use of new rules and executive orders.
To fight back against this overreach of the federal government, I have launched a Regulation Rewind. Through this initiative and with your help, I will identify unnecessary and overly-burdensome regulations which hurt economic growth, limit opportunities for rural Americans, are inconsistent with the law, or are unfair. If you have an example of overreaching federal regulations you would like me to address, please contact me here.
The following is a progress report on Regulation Rewind actions I have taken since the beginning of 2014.
Keep OSHA off Small Farms
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration attempted to regulate small farms, even though this is specifically prohibited by law. In response, I helped organize a coalition of 83 bipartisan Members of Congress from both parties to write the Department of Labor opposing the regulation of small farms and challenging the department’s authority.
Status: OSHA rescinded this proposal in response to my request.
Addressing the Propane Shortage
This winter, in response to propane shortages and rising prices, I co-lead more than 70 bipartisan members in writing to President Obama asking he lift barriers and streamline efforts to ensure access to propane supplies in the Midwest.
Status: Based on the concerns we expressed, President Obama directed agencies to prioritize propane shipments.
Access to Rural Health Care
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced it would begin enforcing regulations requiring doctors at rural Critical Access Hospitals to affirm Medicare patients admitted would be in the facility for less than 96 hours or face the threat of non-reimbursement for services. This regulation creates an unnecessary administrative burden on rural physicians and duplicates the existing requirement that all critical access facilities average less than 96 hours per admission. To address this concern, I introduced the Critical Access Hospital Relief Act (H.R. 3991).
Status: In response to my concern, CMS has proposed scaling back enforcement. H.R. 3991 has been referred to the Ways and Means Committee, on which I serve.
Efficient Use of Spent Grains
The Food and Drug Administration proposed new regulations for spent grains, a cost-effective and nutritious byproduct from breweries, distilleries, and ethanol producers, which can be used as livestock feed, reducing costs for both parties. I joined my colleagues in the Nebraska delegation writing to the FDA opposing this overreach.
Status: Despite outside concern, FDA continues its consideration of this proposal.
Religious Freedom of Employers
Under Obamacare, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services implemented a rule requiring employers, regardless of their religious beliefs, provide birth control to employees as part of their health insurance plan or pay a fine of $36,500 per year per employee. I joined 85 of my colleagues in filing an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court opposing this regulation in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby.
Status: The Supreme Court overturned this regulation for businesses with five or fewer owners.
EPA Proposes Unilaterally Expanding Water Regulation Powers
The Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers jointly proposed expanding their regulatory authority to cover nearly all waterways and potential waterways within the United States. However, federal law repeatedly limits their regulatory authority to navigable waters. In addition to not complying with federal law, this law would create major new regulatory hurdles for business and agriculture. I joined 230 of my colleagues in writing to EPA Administrator McCarthy and Army Secretary McHugh requesting they withdraw the rulemaking proposal.
Status: The comment period for the Waters of the U.S. rule is open until October 20, 2014. You can submit comments here.
Barriers to Jobs in Northwest Nebraska
For more than twenty years, the Crow Butte Mine in Dawes County has safely produced uranium for our nation’s nuclear fleet and contributed tens of millions of dollars to Nebraska’s economy. However, approval of the facility’s license has been held up for more than seven years, blocking expansion at the site. I led my Nebraska colleagues in writing to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission seeking the status of the Crow Butte application and the reason for its delay.
Status: NRC has not yet responded.
Defending Freedom of Speech
Following revelations the Internal Revenue Service illegally targeted conservative non-profits, the agency responded by proposing new rules which would have limited groups’ First Amendment rights and provided them less power to conduct non-partisan voter education activities than charitable groups or labor unions. I joined my Ways and Means Committee colleagues in writing to the IRS opposing this rule.
Status: In response to this letter, IRS rescinded its proposal but has indicated it will produce new rules in the future.
Availability of Local TV
Because the federal law which allows consumers to receive local television stations from satellite providers leaves consumers at the mercy of the arcane Designated Market Area system, many Nebraskans are unable to receive the Nebraska-based stations they consider local. To address this concern, I cosponsored the Orphan County Telecommunications Rights Act (H.R. 4635), which would allow counties to petition for inclusion in an in-state DMA to ensure access to in-state channels.
Status: H.R. 4635 has been referred to the Energy & Commerce and Judiciary Committees.
Regulations on Small Banks and Credit Unions
Federal financial regulators have proposed enforcing the Basel III international banking accord on small banks and credit unions which don’t have the same means to raise outside capital to meet these standards as large financial institutions. I have joined Members of Congress from both parties in writing to the Chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Chair of the Federal Reserve, the Comptroller of the Currency, and the Chairman of the National Credit Union Administration Board to request the implementation of Basel III rules be reconsidered for small banks and credit unions.
Status: Despite outside concern, regulators continue their consideration of these proposals.
Reducing Medicare Part D Spending
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services proposed new rules for Medicare Part D which would have eliminated the ability of insurers in the program to negotiate the best reimbursement rates with pharmaceutical makers and pharmacies – a key cost-saving component of the program. I joined with my Ways and Means Committee Colleagues in writing to the Department of Health and Human Services opposed to this rule.
Status: In response to this letter, CMS rescinded this proposal.
Access to Prescription Medications
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid proposed limiting to 3 from 6 the protected classes of medications for anti-depressants, immuno-suppressants, and anti-psychotics in Medicare Part D. This policy could have placed harmful limits on Medicare beneficiaries’ access to necessary medications which would otherwise be covered by protected status. I joined a group of 50 bipartisan Members on a letter raising concerns about this proposal.
Status: In response to this letter, CMS rescinded this proposal.