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Congressman Tom Cole

Representing the 4th District of Oklahoma

New Reforms Target Growth of Government

January 14, 2013
Weekly Columns

After the 113th Congress was officially sworn in on January 3, one of the first orders of business was to approve new rules under which the legislative process will operate during this session of Congress.  House Resolution 5, the House Rules Package for the 113th Congress, not only outlines procedural guidelines for the legislative session but establishes a framework for scaling back the size and scope of the federal government.

The new rules build on progress begun in 2011 when House Republicans instituted reforms to increase transparency, promote spending restraint and restore the proper focus on the Constitution eroded during the four years under Speaker Pelosi and a liberal House majority. Retaining control of the House for a second consecutive term, the Republican majority remains committed to restoring fiscal sanity to Washington.

One of the new reforms targets excessive government regulation by requiring that committees report the estimated number of regulations federal agencies are likely to attach to each approved piece of legislation.  During just the first two years of President Obama's tenure, federal agencies published 175 major rules, which is a 69 percent increase compared to the first two years of the Bush administration.  In 2010 alone, the Obama administration issued 100 major rules --  the most recorded since the Government Accountability Office began collecting data.  A congressional inquiry in 2011 revealed seven proposed rules with costs of $1 billion or more and 219 regulations that would each cost over $100 million.  By focusing on potential regulatory impact before legislation is passed, the House will guard against the regulatory overreach that stifles economic growth and job creation.

Other reforms are designed to identify and eliminate wasteful spending.  To combat the explosion of welfare spending fueled by weakened requirements under the Obama administration, all budget resolutions considered by the House must include analysis of the projected growth of welfare spending.  Another reform creates a process to weed out duplicative or overlapping federal programs. 

Before reaching the House floor, all legislation is subjected to an additional round of scrutiny by the House Rules Committee.  I'm honored to begin serving on this vital committee, which sets terms of debate and ensures that each piece of legislation complies with  all House regulations, including the latest reforms.  The Rules Committee's top priorities of accountability and transparency reinforce the commitment to reform and fiscal responsibility demonstrated by the House Rules Package.

The American people have justifiably run out of patience with a federal government that fails to take seriously the economic challenges facing our country.  Bringing fiscal sanity to Washington may be an uphill battle, but the reforms adopted by House Republicans ensure a solid foundation for the budget debates in the 113th Congress.