House Passes Bill to Limit Regulations, Carbon Taxes

Chamber of Commerce may include vote in their annual scorecard

August 2, 2013

House Republicans passed a bill Friday morning to curtail what the GOP calls excessive and expensive federal regulations, including any attempt to implement a tax on industry carbon emissions.

The House passed the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act by a party line vote of 232-183, with six Democrats voting for the bill.

Under the bill, both chambers of Congress would have to approve "major" federal regulations that carry an annual price tag of $100 million or more. The legislation was part of House Republicans’ "Stop Government Abuse" week — a slate of bills for the GOP lawmakers to take home to their constituents during the August recess.

"Like all taxes, a tax on carbon would hit the poor, the elderly, and those on fixed incomes the hardest," House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R., Va.) said in a statement. "I urge the president to focus on how we create a climate for economic growth and job creation, not how we find new ways to tax the American people"

The bill is not likely to be taken up by the Democrat-controlled Senate, and the White House has threatened to veto it. However, it did force House Democrats to go on the record regarding a carbon tax.

Shortly after the vote, Grover Norquist’s small government group, Americans For Tax Reform, sent out a press release with the subject line:  "176 House Democrats Support Obama-imposed Carbon Tax."

Business groups also were monitoring the bill. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce said it was considering including the vote on its annual scorecard for lawmakers.

While President Barack Obama has made tackling climate change a major part of his second-term agenda, the White House has said it will not press for a carbon tax.

However, even if they are loath to take up the House GOP’s bills, Democrats in the Senate have little political will for a carbon tax. Earlier in the year, the Senate failed to pass two key amendments regarding a carbon tax.

Rep. Steve Scalise (R., La.) offered the anti-carbon tax amendment to the REINS Act. It was originally taken up as a resolution by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R., Kan.) last year.

"The Obama administration has used every trick in the book to implement its radical agenda through back door regulations," Scalise said in a statement. "This amendment is necessary to prohibit a carbon tax from being imposed by unelected bureaucrats on behalf of the president without legislative action and oversight. We need to restore common-sense to Washington, and put an end to the liberal tax, regulate, and spend agenda that is destroying our middle class economy and reducing opportunities for the poor."