Hooray for the U.S. House For Standing Up to Regulatory Tyranny On Cap-and-Trade and Net Neutrality

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With the Republican House putting the brakes on Obama’s continued pursuit of a “fundamental transformation” of America through the legitimate legislative process, action has shifted to the regulatory realm, where this administration is aggressively pursuing its agenda.

Unelected regulators are usurping the legislative power that the people, in the Constitution, granted to Congress. Just as judicial tyranny (judges usurping legislative power) has been a major and well-founded concern of activists for decades, Congress must step in and stop this regulatory tyranny.

Fortunately, the House Energy and Commerce Committee will begin action today to stop two of the most egregious regulatory power grabs of this administration. As documented at www.ObamaChart.com, the EPA’s global warming regulations and the FCC’s Internet regulations.

President Obama is now pursuing his entire failed global warming agenda – decisively rejected as the cap-and-tax bill and in the 2010 election. In Obama’s words: “Cap-and-trade was just one way of skinning the cat; it was not the only way.”

Indeed, the EPA is actively pursuing a bizarre legal theory that the 1970 Clean Air Act was designed as a global warming law, and that pursuant to it they can regulate just about everything that moves, as well as most industrial facilities. When it’s fully phased in, their plans include over 18,000 pages of appendices that would regulate every industry in the U.S., cause electricity prices to skyrocket, and greatly diminish our freedom and prosperity.

On the FCC side, President Obama’s close friend Julius Genachowski has been running the supposedly independent agency as an extension of the White House, pursuing so-called "net neutrality" regulations to give the FCC a toehold over regulating broadband Internet access despite the fact those regulations were rejected by Congress (where they had almost no support), the American people, and the courts.

In the 2010 election, there were 95 candidates who campaigned on supporting net neutrality, and all 95 lost. --Yet the FCC insisted on moving forward anyway, on a 3-to-2 party-line vote on December 21, 2010.

Both of these regulatory power grabs are now in Congress’s sights for overturning, starting today in the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which is marking up two measures: H.R. 910 to stop the EPA and H.J. Res. 37 to stop the FCC.

H.R. 910 is a good and important bill that stops the misuse of the Clean Air Act as a global warming law, but the greens have many other angles on skipping Congress to force global warming regulations – including the absurd claim that the polar bear, now at a record high population, is endangered. Congress should therefore go further than H.R. 910 and also enact H.R. 750, Tim Walberg’s bill that blocks any regulator from acting on global warming unless, and until, Congress expressly gives them that authority.

Both of these EPA pre-emption vehicles will face an uphill fight in the Senate, but there are enough in-cycle Democrats – including many from energy states – who need to stand up for their constituents, even in the face of political pressure from the White House and the green pressure groups. The 60 votes needed in the Senate will not be impossible, and a strong push now in the House will set the stage.

On the FCC side, the prospects for H.J. Res. 37 and its companion S.J. Res. 6 in the Senate are much brighter, because it requires only 51 votes, not 60, to pass the Senate. As a Congressional Review Act resolution, the overturn of the FCC’s Internet regulations will not be subject to filibuster. That means if just four Senate Democrats join all 47 Republicans they can put Obama to the test, and see if he is so blindly committed to regulating the Internet – without regard for the legitimate legislative process – that he will use his veto to force the regulations to stand.

These House votes in committee – and later on the floor – will tell us which members of Congress are serious about listening to the voters and taking their constitutional responsibility to write the laws seriously. Voting no on these measures indicates not just support for these misguided big government policies, but a complete disregard for the legitimate legislative process.

That disregard begs a question – if we elect legislators who sit on their hands while unelected regulators usurp their power and make all of the real decisions, don’t we need to demand better as citizens and voters?

Phil Kerpen is vice president for policy at Americans for Prosperity and author of "Democracy Denied: How Obama Is Bypassing Congress And Ignoring The 2010 Election – And How To Stop Him" (BenBella Books, 2011).