New Congress Kicks Off With Attacks on Science-based Public Health Protections

Statement by Andrew Rosenberg, Union of Concerned Scientists

Published Jan 3, 2017

Washington (January 3, 2016)—Two egregious attacks on science-based safeguards are among the very first bills under consideration by the 115th Congress. These bills, referred to as the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act and the Midnight Rules Relief Act, will endanger Americans and members of Congress should oppose them, according to experts at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). 

Below is a statement from Andrew Rosenberg, director of the Center for Science and Democracy at UCS.

“It’s very discouraging to see this Congress, in its first week, launching this attack on science-based policies. Americans didn’t vote to have public health and environmental protections gutted. They didn’t vote to give corporations yet another tool to nullify the laws that keep our homes, neighborhoods and workplaces safe. But that’s what these two bills would do. 

“These bills are being presented in a misleading way, and they’re an assault on a fundamental part of our democracy--that all Americans should be able to benefit from science, especially those most vulnerable to pollution and other risks. We need stronger, not weaker, safeguards to protect Americans at home and at work.  But these two bills enable Congress to discard the facts and dismantle these safeguards on a wholly political basis. 

“The REINS Act would override years of scientific analysis and public comment with a single vote. It would replace judgments based on science with judgments based purely on politics, and give narrow interests the ability to protect their own bottom line regardless of the cost to the public. The so-called ‘Midnight Rules’ bill does the same thing, steamrolling years’ worth of efforts from agencies, scientific advisors and community groups and overruling transparent, science-based policymaking.  Both measures would allow industry, through highly paid lobbying efforts and backroom deals, to block the protections that communities, workers and their families need. 

“By rushing these destructive bills through the U.S. House, Speaker Paul Ryan is showing us where his allegiance lies--with industry and special interest lobbyists rather than the people. It’s a cynical and deceptive attack, and an unsettling signal for how questions of science and fairness will be treated in this Congress. We urge every elected official to stand up for the people who elected them and vote against these bills.”