The REINS Act would have required Congress to approve all new “major” rules before they could go into effect. A significant re-ordering of the regulatory process, it was one of many regulatory reform bills that was introduced but not enacted in the 115th Congress.
The REINS Act reflected aspects of a larger movement to strengthen the role of Congress vis-à-vis the executive. (See, e.g., LegBranch.org resources about congressional reform. The National Constitution Center’s podcast took up this topic recently. It was also the subject of a recent gathering hosted by GMU’s Center for the Study of the Administrative State.) Over at Brookings, Phil Wallach argues that the bill’s potential to reclaim Congressional power was doomed by its anti-regulatory optics.
He finds that: “[b]y creating a strong political association between provisions to empower Congress and the cause of cutting back on regulations, Republicans in Congress have made it significantly harder to fashion bipartisan compromises that favor the first branch.” Tracing the history back to the legislative veto and INS v. Chadha, he presents the REINS episode as a cautionary tale to those who seek to invigorate Congress. For more, check out his piece Losing hold of the REINS: How Republicans’ attempt to cut back on regulations has impeded Congress’s ability to assert itself.