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Press Releases :: February 13, 2007

Miller Leads Subcommittee Hearing into White House Executive Order That Gives More Political Control Over Public Health, Safety Regulations

Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee Chair Brad Miller (D-NC) wielded the gavel today at the Subcommittee’s first hearing of the 110th Congress.

Today’s hearing was prompted by a directive from the President (Executive Order 12866) which gives the White House greater control in shaping rules that have primarily been generated by civil servants and scientific experts by putting the regulatory process at agencies under control of a political appointee.

"This order allows political appointees to dictate decisions out of the shadows on health and safety issues, even if impartial scientific experts decide otherwise," said Chairman Miller.  "It’s another avenue for special interests to slow down and prevent agencies from protecting the public."

The new executive order revised the rules for federal agencies to use a standard of "market failure," which means determining whether private markets can correct a social problem like pollution on their own, before deciding if government should step in.  A Bush political appointee in each agency would be empowered to stop agencies from even beginning a move towards regulation.

All this would come even before the agency had to clear the cost-benefit analysis standards required by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).  Analyze the costs and benefits of new rules, effectively creating a hurdle for agencies to clear before they can issue rules protecting public health and safety.

"It is not good government when agency action is based on economic or political back room deals rather than environmental or public health consequences," added Chairman Miller.

The purpose of today’s hearing included: exploring the consequences of the executive order and examining how the expansion of political authority over federal agencies will affect the ability of agencies to follow laws passed by Congress to protect public safety.



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