Email #247: “uphold our constitutional framework”?

I wrote to you previously about the EPA’s attempt to delay implementing a regulation for two years, a delay which a court struck down as unlawful because the delay violates the regulation development process. I now read that other agencies in the executive branch are acting similarly.

The Labor Department has delayed a rule requiring financial advisers to put consumers’ interests before their own, and the Food and Drug Administration has delayed a rule requiring restaurants to list calories on their menus.

The Interior Department also issued a two-year delay on rules limiting methane in wells. The GOP-controlled Senate had attempted to revoke the law requiring the regulation, but three Republican Senators joined Democrats to preserve it. That means the Interior Department’s delay is a way for the GOP-controlled executive branch to change the law without Congress.

Although you said the morning after your re-election that you “will work hard checking executive overreach,” you have not responded to the Trump administration’s overreaching abuse of these delays. You also said in May: “I take Congress’s role to uphold our constitutional framework of three co-equal branches of government very seriously. Congress and the American public should not and cannot allow one branch to assume too much authority without a challenge from the other branches of government.”

Why then are you not challenging the executive branch now? I realize you might personally agree with the individual policies that the delays support, but that does not excuse you from carrying out your duties as chair of the House Judiciary Committee. If anything, it raises the ethical bar. A failure to check the executive branch now reveals your earlier statements to be false. Did your concern for the Constitution stop when a Republican entered the White House?

Although my continuing research into your actions and inaction reveal startlingly consistent hypocrisy, I would still like to believe that at some point you will recognize the damage you are doing to the principles that you claim to uphold. I would like to believe that you are guided by more than political expediency. I would like to believe that you are an American before you are a Republican.

Opposing executive delays of legislative laws is an opportunity for you to define yourself in your own conservative terms and not as a Trump administration yes-man. Doing so now would also establish your credibility later when you are faced with far more serious choices regarding the President’s future in the White House.

Email #212: “Most troublesome of all”?

Just as there is a process for creating laws, there is a process for creating the rules and regulations that enforce those laws. This week a court struck down the EPA’s two-year stay on enforcing a methane regulation, deciding that it is “an order delaying the rule’s effective date, and this court has held that such orders are tantamount to amending or revoking a rule.”

As you know, the EPA must first write a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and list it in the Federal Register for others to comment on. Only after considering those comments can the EPA issue a final rule, list it on the Federal Register, and codify it by adding it to the Code of Federal Regulations. The EPA ignored that process by effectively revoking a current rule created to enforce the Clean Air Act.

In the past you have argued that the process for developing regulations is essential and that rules that did not follow it were illegitimate. You said in March that you opposed the Stream Protection Rule because the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM) did not follow the process:

“Most troublesome of all, OSM did not comply with the requirement to engage in meaningful consultation with the impacted state governments during the yearlong development of this rule. In fact, several states dropped out of the rule development process altogether due to frustration with OSM.”

Why then are you not objecting to the EPA’s actions now? They too are not complying with the requirement to engage in meaningful consultation. Worse, they have eliminated the rule development process altogether.

Do you not care about the process and were only using it as an excuse to oppose the Stream Protection Rule? Is this yet another example of your evoking a principle in one situation and then ignoring that same principle in a different situation? Do you have any guiding principle other than political convenience?