In the past few days Congress and the Executive Branch have taken steps that are deeply troubling. There is an assault on our system of democracy that, unopposed, will change forever the trust we may have in our government, the capacity for us to even know what is happening in our federal agencies.
The public voices of our nation’s agencies from the National Park Service to the Environmental Protection Agency were silenced earlier this week. Web sites and Twitter accounts were frozen, and our access to them to ask questions or obtain information was ended.
Some enterprising NPS employees, using their own resources and time, have created an “Alt NPS” Twitter account through which they continue to post scientific information on climate change and other NPS related issues. It’s not a lot of access, but it’s a start. The US Department of Agriculture site, also silenced, is now back online, but their posts of critical scientific information is under scrutiny.
This has a horrible impact on our ability to trust what we read, to obtain what we want to know.
Far more troubling is a Congressional bill, HR 5, The Regulatory Accountability Act of 2017. This bill, passed in the dark of night by the House, changes the entire nature of how we will regulate business, industry, agriculture, mining, or any business at all.
Every proposed regulation will be vetted in terms of the “burden” it might place on the entity being regulated, not the benefit to our nation and our people.
Every regulation will be open to objection, and every business objecting to being regulated will be given more weight than those negatively impacted by the actions of said businesses.
Although amendments were offered to exclude areas from this regulatory roll back, no exemptions were made for public health and welfare, for assuring food safety, for protecting employees not even from exposure to toxins and carcinogens, not for communities exposed to toxic materials, and not even to protect our children by assuring their toys are safe.
Under the pretense of “restoring” Constitutional balance, courts will be restricted in terms of how they may rule. They may not appeal to precedent. They may review regulator laws in light of the burden provision of HR 5 only. In other words, the 228-year-old Constitutional separation of powers and the millennia-long use of precedent by our courts has been ended for these purposes.
You must contact your Senators now to stop this bill. The consequences are dire, and the threat to our Constitution itself is on the line. Please call and keep calling your Senators to insist this bill be defeated! Please call them at the Capitol Switchboard – 202-224-3121. If you want to send a FAX letter, please go to our site http://www.churchimpact.org/take-action.html and obtain the FAX number for your Senators' offices.
This bill sets a totally unacceptable standard. It takes us back to the 1890s where no protections for workers, families, our communities, or our environment even existed. It will allow some to be “more equal than others” and will strip the courts of their Constitutional role as arbiter of fairness.
HR 5 cannot be allowed to undermine all we care about and our standards for due process. Please call today even if you know your Senator will agree. Numbers matter here, and the weight of your opinion can help us block this dreadful threat to open and transparent government and to democracy itself.