[Congressional Record Volume 141, Number 110 (Monday, July 10, 1995)]
[Senate]
[Pages S9644-S9645]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                           REGULATORY REFORM

  Mr. REID. Mr. President, in 1969 the Cuyahoga River in Ohio caught 
fire. I repeat, the Cuyahoga River caught fire. This river was so 
polluted that it actually started burning.
  As a result of this, Members of Congress and the President decided it 
was time we did something about the rivers and streams in this country. 
Following that fire, that is a river catching fire, the Clean Water Act 
was passed. It has been 25-plus years since that river burned. Since 
that time, there has been a reversal of how the rivers and streams 
were. Then, 80 percent of the rivers and streams were polluted. Now, 
about 20 percent of the rivers and streams are polluted. We have made a 
lot of progress with the Clean Water Act, and that is the subject of 
this discussion tonight.
  We have heard a lot of talk lately about regulatory reform, and I 
think it is important, because there is no area in the Federal 
Government--and as far as that goes, State government--that causes 
people as much concern as regulations. They have not only had the laws 
to deal with, but in recent years the laws propound regulations and the 
regulations propound all kinds of business decisions that people have 
to make.
  It used to be that when we passed a law, or a State government passed 
a law, the laws could, in effect, be administered differently. If a 
bureaucrat wanted to administer the law in one part of the country in 
one way and in another part of the country in another way because of 
the climatic conditions, or whatever other variances there may be, he 
was able to do that. But the courts have said that is not permissible, 
that there must be, when a law is passed, rules promulgated so that law 
is enforced the same for everyone.
  That has caused a lot of problems. We have heard, in recent days 
during the debate on this issue, a great deal about the pros and cons, 
for example, about threshold limits; that is, what dollar value should 
be in effect before a regulation is treated one way as compared to if 
it is under that threshold amount, should it be treated a different 
way. We have been barraged by declarations about rolling back existing 
rules, and this has caused areas of disagreement.
  Within the framework of this debate, I have tried to find a 
commonsense approach to how we should approach this most important area 
of the law, namely regulation reform. All too often, in issues such as 
this, it seems that common sense becomes clouded with political 
agendas, Presidential campaigns, congressional campaigns; obscured, 
perhaps, by various ideologies and smothered in the shouting from the 
right and the left. Common sense requires a balance, I think, in 
reform; a look at what is reasonable and then legislation that does not 
harm the whole to benefit just a few.
  I do not know any Members of this body who would refuse small 
businesses the opportunity to grow and prosper. I know I feel that way 
because most of the jobs in this country are created by small 
businesses, not the General Motors, not the Lockheeds, not the 
Aerojets, but, rather, small businesses--mom and pop stores. In fact, 
small businesses produce about 85 percent of the jobs in the United 
States. So we must be responsive to how small business performs in our 
country. The better they perform, the more jobs are available, the 
better our country performs.
  I have consistently been an advocate and have encouraged the 
stimulation of small businesses. They assume the risks of the 
marketplace and, as I have already indicated, are the backbone of our 
economy. But the profit of the business community should not come at 
the expense of clean air, clean water, and clean food. We cannot 
approach all problems with a dollar figure as the principal 
determination in the cost-benefit analysis.
  Mr. President, as with all of us, we have recently returned from our 
States. Recently being in Nevada, and having had a number of town hall 
meetings, I heard from many people expressing concern about a rolling 
back of regulations that put certain areas that they were concerned 
about at risk, especially the environment. They were concerned also 
about the cleanliness of food and, of course, the safety of workers. In 
fact, a recent poll in Nevada is very illuminating, as to how people in 
Nevada feel. Nevadans do not believe they are overregulated in the 
areas of health and the environment. In fact, when you ask the people 
of the State of Nevada, ``Do you think that laws and regulations 
relating to clean water are not strict enough? About right? Or too 
strict?'' here is how the people of Nevada feel. Mr. President, 49 
percent of the people in Nevada say that the clean water laws and 
regulations are not strict enough; 34 percent feel they are about 
right. Mr. President, that is about 85 percent of the people in Nevada 
who feel that the clean water regulations are either just right or not 
strong enough. Only 11 percent of the people feel that they are too 
strict.
  Clean air--again, 44 percent feel that the clean air regulations are 
not strict enough. Remember, the State of Nevada has Las Vegas, it has 
Reno, and then the vast majority of the State, areawise, is rural in 
nature. This takes into consideration the views of rural Nevadans. 
Nevadans said that clean air rules and regulations and laws are not 
strict enough, to the tune of 44 percent.
 Twenty-five percent said they are about right.
  Mr. President, with the environment, when you ask the question 
broadly, ``Do you feel the laws relating to the environment are not 
strict enough, too strict, or about right?''--39 percent said they are 
not strict enough; 29 percent said they are just right.
  Food safety: 43 percent of the people of Nevada said they are not 
strict enough, 43 percent said they are about right, and only 8 percent 
said that food safety regulations are too strict.
  Workplace safety: Again, the same situation, not strict enough, and 
about right. Those figures come to about 65 percent.
  The people of Nevada are very concerned about food, water, air, and 
the environment generally.
  It is interesting, people in Nevada were asked the question--that is, 
people over age 60--``Would you be less likely to vote for someone that 
tampered with Medicare or less likely to vote for someone that messed 
with the environmental laws?'' Seniors, people over 60 years of age, 
said, ``We would be less likely to vote for someone that tried to 
weaken environmental laws.''
  So I do not think Nevada is unusual. I do not know statistically how 
other States feel other than what I read in the Washington Post 
newspaper yesterday, where a writer said that a recent Times-Mirror 
survey shows that although a large majority of respondents want most 
types of regulations rolled back, they make an exception for 
conservation rules. Seventy-eight percent said that Government should 
do whatever it takes to protect the environment. So it sounds to me, 
Mr. President, that nationwide the people feel the same as they do in 
Nevada.
  I am not advocating the existence of any program, rule, or regulation 
that does not serve the public good. That would not serve anyone's 
purpose. In fact, it hinders more than it helps.
  But I would like to look at what Senator John Glenn said when S. 343 
was introduced. Senator Glenn, who is the 

[[Page S 9645]]
ranking member of the Government Operations Committee, who has worked 
on this bill in this area of the law a significant amount, said:

       Any bill on the subject of regulatory reform to be 
     deserving of support must pass the test that is twofold: 
     Number one, does the bill support the reasonable, logical, 
     appropriate changes to regulatory procedures that eliminate 
     unnecessary burdens on businesses and individuals? Number 
     two, does the bill maintain the Government's ability to 
     protect the health, the safety, and the environment of the 
     American people? If the answer to both those questions is 
     yes, then the bill should be supported.

  That says it all. I congratulate and applaud Senator Glenn for this 
statement because that is what it is all about.
  Mr. President, I believe that after the Government has acted on a 
problem, and there is a need for the Government to act on that problem, 
after time has passed I think it is important that we in Government 
look at the action that was taken by our prior Government. We have to 
reexamine I believe for efficiency, and because of that we need a 
periodic review. We do not have that. We should have that.
  I have introduced legislation previously that said if Congress 
authorizes a program, we should reauthorize that program every 10 
years, or it should fall. The reason I believe that is important is we 
have had some really unusual things happen in this Chamber that I am 
aware of.
  It was just a year ago that I offered an amendment to do away with 
the Tea-Tasting Board--I repeat, the Tea-Tasting Board, costing almost 
$0.5 million a year, which had been going on for 60, 80, 100 years. We 
did not need it anymore. But it was just going on and on and on, like 
the battery you see on television. Had we had something in place that 
would have mandated a reauthorization of that program, the taxpayers' 
money would not have been wasted.
  We had another program. During the Second World War it was important 
for soldiers to have wool. When wool gets wet, you can still stay warm 
with it. We did not have the synthetic products we now have. It was 
found during the Second World War we were not raising enough wool and 
mohair. As a result of that, we made special provisions that there 
would be a subsidy for people that would grow wool and mohair. This 
went on for 50 years. There was no need for it anymore. It was only 
recently that we terminated that program.
  It should have been reviewed on a periodic basis. That is what we 
need to do with laws, and we need to do the same with regulations. Once 
a regulation is promulgated, there is no reason it should be there 
forever. There should be some way to reexamine that regulation that has 
been promulgated. That is what I am going to look for in the 
legislation that is now before this body.
  Mr. President, I chaired a subcommittee when the Democrats were in 
the majority, a subcommittee in the Environment and Public Works 
Committee. It was the Subcommittee on Toxic Substances Research and 
Development. I chaired this subcommittee for a couple of Congresses. We 
had some really interesting hearings there. We had hearings that dealt 
with lead in the environment. And clearly as a result of those 
hearings, we focused attention on the need to do something about lead 
in the environment. We had physicians testify that it was the most 
dangerous condition for young children in America. Lead in the 
environment affected all people, no matter what race and no matter what 
economic strata they came from. We focused attention on this. As a 
result of that, legislation was passed that was directed toward taking 
lead out of the environment.
  Mr. President, we held hearings on composite materials. These are the 
plastics that are used on airplanes like the Stealth fighter plane. We 
learned that in the workplace, this substance was killing people and 
making thousands of people sick. As a result of the hearings which we 
held, regulations were promulgated, workplaces were changed, and work 
conditions were changed. We needed to use composite materials. But we 
needed to do it safely.
  We held hearings on fungicides and pesticides on foods learning that 
some of them were dangerous. As an example, hearings were held on a 
substance called alar, a substance to make apples, cherries, and grapes 
stay on trees longer than they normally would. This substance is now 
not used in the United States.
  We held a significant number of hearings, Mr. President, on TOSCA. 
This is a program that we have now in effect that is old and needs to 
be updated. It has not been yet.
  My only reason for pointing these things out is to suggest that in 
the areas I have mentioned, and in other areas such as lawn chemicals 
where we found people were getting sick, and we heard testimony before 
the committee that people died as a result of improper application of 
these substances and a lot of people got sick, that we have to be very 
careful that we do not throw the baby out with the bath water.
  We have problems with too many regulations. But we must have a 
framework in place that allows protection of people in the workplace, 
in the marketplace, so that we can enjoy life with clean air and clean 
water. The regulations must be such that we can protect people but yet 
not make the rules so burdensome that people cannot conduct business.
  This Congress has already had consideration of regulations. The House 
put a moratorium on all regulations. This body felt that had gone too 
far. Senator Nickles, the senior Senator from Oklahoma, and I 
introduced an amendment. Basically, what the amendment said is that if 
a regulation has an impact of more than $100 million, this body and the 
House would have the opportunity for a legislative veto. That 
regulation would not go into effect for 45 days. During that 45-day 
period, we would have the opportunity to review that. If we did not 
like it, we could wipe that regulation off. It would not become 
effective. If it had an impact of less than $100 million, it would 
become effective immediately, but we would have 45 days to review that 
regulation. If we did not like it, we could rescind it.
  This is a reasonable, sensible approach to regulatory reform. I am 
happy to see that the version submitted by the majority through Senator 
Dole has this approach in it.
  That submitted by my friend, the senior Senator from Ohio, also has a 
provision similar to this in it. I think that is important. It 
recognizes that this body by a vote of 100 to nothing adopted the Reid-
Nickles amendment.
  In sum, Mr. President, we need a sensible approach to regulatory 
reform. I think that we should all keep in mind what Senator Glenn has 
said. I think we would acknowledge what he said is right.

       Any bill on the subject of regulatory reform to be 
     deserving of support must pass a test that is twofold. No. 1, 
     does the bill provide for reasonable, logical, appropriate 
     changes to regulatory procedures that eliminate unnecessary 
     burdens on businesses and on individuals? And, No 2, does the 
     bill maintain the Government's ability to protect the health, 
     the safety, and the environment of the American people?

  That should be the goal that the majority and the minority work 
toward on this legislation. Let us not form gridlock. Let us work to 
improve the way that the American public must deal with these 
regulations and in the process protect what people want protected the 
most, and that is food, water, and working conditions.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor. I understand that ends this session 
tonight.

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