The REINS Act will keep unelected federal bureaucrats accountable to Congress

The Constitution makes explicitly clear that Congress is delegated as the lawmaking branch of the federal government. But, over time, lawmakers have abdicated this responsibility by passing laws that delegate the regulatory process to unelected, largely unaccountable bureaucrats in the executive branch. This has led to presidents enacting their agendas through executive fiat, especially in times of divided government.

In 2014, the Obama administration — in its so-called "Year of Action" — federal agencies proposed and finalized $181 billion in regulations, adding to the already crushing $1.8 trillion burden of red tape that existed at the end of 2013. Last week, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) posted a video on his Facebook page comparing the 3,291 pages of new laws passed by Congress last year to the 79,066 pages of regulations issued by federal bureaucrats.

Here’s the stack of laws from the video, which, as you can see, is small enough to fit on a table:

Laws passed by Congress

And here are the regulations issued by federal bureaucrats just last year. Unlike laws passed by Congress, these regulations don’t fit in any normal or reasonable space. Lee’s staff needed somewhere else to pile them up:

Regulations issued by bureaucrats

Nope. They weren’t done. The pages of regulations just keep growing:

Regulations issued by bureaucrats (Part 2)

And growing:

Regulations issued by bureaucrats (Part 3)

"These rules – many that are are inefficient, ineffective, and excessive – continue to limit the ability of small businesses and workers to succeed, rig the system to benefit connected insiders, and hurt hardworking American families through higher costs and limited options in the marketplace," Lee notes in the Facebook post. "Yet, despite the very real negative effects on our economy, the American people are unable to hold the unelected bureaucrats who make these rules accountable."

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Rep. Todd Young (R-IN) introduced the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act in their respective chambers last month. This measure would require congressional approval of any major regulations — those with an estimated annual economic impact of $100 million or more — promulgated by federal agencies and put a long overdue check on overreach by the executive branch.