Government Oversight and Regulatory Reform
Oversight and Government Reform
As a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the “chief watch dog” committee in the House, I am constantly seeking ways to repeal unnecessary regulations and otherwise enact congressional disapproval of some regulations.
In the 113th Congress, I had more success than any other member of Congress, with six bills signed into law by the president, 12 other of my legislative efforts becoming law, 25 of my amendments passing the House, and positively affecting almost one billion dollars in federal spending. Most of my successful amendments targeted wasteful spending and government overreach. I successfully passed amendments that cut $345.6 million for the IRS budget and prohibited bonuses for IRS executives, blocked funds from going towards an unconditional roadside survey, and blocked Obama's request for $29 million for a new, duplicative climate change program.
Gosar Actions Cause Heads to Roll at the Secret Service
On October 26, 2015, I spearheaded a bipartisan letter signed by 30 members of Congress to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson and Secret Service Director Joseph P. Clancy demanding that corrective action be taken against all Secret Service employees who broke the law by improperly accessing and leaking private information about House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz. In November 2015, Secret Service Director Joseph P. Clancy testified at a joint hearing that 42 Secret Service employees will be disciplined for their actions relating to the information breach of Chariman Chaffetz personal information. Director Clancey stated that each of these agents will receive three to 12 day suspensions, and that some could even possibly be fired. CLICK HERE to read more.
Operation Fast and Furious
The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform also watches over other activities within the executive branch, including misguided and dangerous programs such as Operation Fast and Furious. Operation Fast and Furious was part of the Southwest Border Initiative conducted by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the ATF. It facilitated the exchange and transportation of firearms into Mexico and into the hands of felons and drug cartels. This operation resulted in thousands of high powered firearms flowing into the hands of Mexican drug cartel leaders. A couple of these firearms were used to murder Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. They have also turned up at over a hundred Mexican crime scenes. It is tragic that a government tasked with protecting Americans and keeping guns out of the hands of criminals in fact dedicated precious resources and taxpayer dollars to doing the opposite. Even more chilling, congressional investigation has found that thousands of guns ushered into the hands of these criminals are still out there. The Committee is continuing to seek justice for agents like Brian Terry and was able to insert a provision in this year's end-of-the-year spending bill blocking Fast and Furious like programs. CLICK HERE to read more.
Impeaching EPA Administrator McCarthy
Under Administrator McCarthy’s direction, the EPA continues to enact job-killing regulations that increase food prices and energy costs for hard-working American families. Hundreds of thousands of jobs will be lost as a result of these new mandates, which disproportionately impact the poor. This should be concerning enough, but to make matters worse, these regulations are not based on science and are being imposed through lies to Congress and the American people. On numerous occasions, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy broke the law by lying to Congress in order to force misguided and overreaching regulations, which have no scientific basis, down our throats. We must hold D.C. bureaucrats accountable when they commit perjury or make false statements in order to implement President Obama’s misguided agenda. Perjury before Congress is perjury to the American people and an affront to the core principles of our Republic and that is why I introduced articles of impeachment to remove Administrator McCarthy from office. Click HERE to read more.
Holding Lois Lerner in Contempt
As an employee of the federal government, Lois Lerner took an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. Her behavior, however, was directly contradictory to the Constitution. As a former public servant, Mrs. Lerner has an obligation to give the American people answers as to why their government chose to target specific groups based on their political ideologies. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, on which I serve, subpoenaed Mrs. Lerner to provide those answers, but she refused to comply by asserting her right to remain silent under the Fifth Amendment. However, before pleading the Fifth, she declared her innocence, thereby waiving her right to remain silent. She has since continued her refusal to testify, which is why the House voted with my support to hold her in contempt in May 2014. CLICK HERE to read more.
Holding Eric Holder in Contempt
In conducting an honest review of Holder’s legacy, one must address the racial tension he created. His incessant focus on these issues only worsened race relations in a country that, despite its shaky past, had made much progress in this area. Holder criticized several states for their voter ID laws, and even prosecuted Alabama for passing laws he claimed violated Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act—laws that were intended to prevent illegals and non-citizens from voting. The list of egregious offenses during the Holder era goes on and on: assault on the Second Amendment and Operation Choke Point, Fast and Furious, failure to prosecute members of the New Black Panther Party, the IRS scandal, spying on journalist James Rosen, tapping the phone records of the Associated Press, failing to enforce our immigration laws, encouraging state attorney generals not to enforce laws they philosophically disagree with, advising the President that he didn’t need to follow the law and notify Congress prior to the Bergdahl-Taliban swap, etc. Suffice it to say that no Attorney General—in fact, no cabinet member—has had a more scandal-plagued tenure. I led the charge against Attorney General Eric Holder and introduced a bill that garnered 142 cosponsors “expressing no confidence” in Holder. Those sentiments were expressed when the House ultimately voted to hold Attorney General Holder in contempt of Congress in 2012.
Impeaching John Koskinen
I joined 18 other members of the House in introducing legislation that will initiate articles of impeachment against John Koskinen, Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), for high crimes and misdemeanors. Under the direction of Commissioner John Koskinen, IRS officials have led a coordinated effort to hide the truth about this rogue agency’s targeting of innocent Americans based on their political beliefs. On Koskinen’s watch, the IRS intentionally destroyed nearly 24,000 emails from Lois Lerner and failed to comply with a Congressional subpoena. To make matters worse, Commissioner Koskinen made a series of false and misleading statements, under oath, to Congress at multiple committee hearings on this matter. Koskinen said in March 2014 that the IRS had turned over all Lerner’s emails and all requested information, yet, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration uncovered more than 1,000 emails that the IRS tried to hide. CLICK HERE to read more.
The Responsibility in Federal Contracting Act
In January 2015, I introduced H.R. 924, the Responsibility in Federal Contracting Act, legislation which requires the calculation of wages for public works projects to be based on actual statistics calculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). For far too long, wages for public works projects have been determined by an outdated and flawed formula that sacrifices accuracy, jobs and billions of federal tax dollars. The current calculation dates back to the 1931 Davis-Bacon Act and is riddled with fraud and abuse as evidenced by multiple Inspector General (IG) and Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports. A 2008 Department of Labor Inspector General (IG) report found that “one or more errors existed in 100 percent of the wage reports.” Research conducted by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that upwards of $13 billion could be wasted over 10 years if Davis-Bacon is left unreformed. Another reputable economic analysis projected that reforming the current method would have saved the federal government nearly $11 billion in 2011 alone. My commonsense legislation will cut waste, create jobs and save billions. CLICK HERE to read more.
Preventing Members of Congress from Flying First-Class on Your Dime
In March 2015, I introduced bipartisan legislation, H.R. 2210, the Coach-Only Airfare for Capitol Hill Act, to prohibit members of Congress from using official funds known as Member Representational Allowance (MRA) to purchase first-class airline tickets while traveling for official Congressional duties. Currently, there exists a loophole that allows members of Congress to fly first-class at the expense of hardworking taxpayers. Members of Congress are public servants of the people and should not be considered a privileged status. As current regulations prevent men and women serving in the U.S. military from flying first-class, there is absolutely no reason why members of Congress should be given a special exemption not offered to our nation’s heroes. It’s time to end the double standard and rein in this abuse. CLICK HERE to read more.
The Downwinders Compensation Act of 2015
From 1945 to 1962 the United States government conducted nearly 200 atmospheric weapons development tests as part of our nation’s Cold War security strategy during an era when other hostile nations were also engaged in nuclear weapons testing and proliferation. Sadly, these tests exposed thousands of innocent Americans to cancer-causing ionized radiation from nuclear fallout. When the injuries were discovered, Congress subsequently provided an apology on behalf of the nation and passed the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act of 1990, or RECA, to establish a trust fund for partial restitution to individuals—commonly referred to as “Downwinders”—who have contracted certain cancers and other serious diseases that can be directly attributed to the radiation exposure from the nuclear weapons testing. While the Act which established RECA was well-intended, Americans that reside in counties in close proximity to where the testing occurred are excluded from this program for no logical scientific reason, including people that reside in Mohave County, Arizona and Clark County, Nevada. My legislation amends RECA to correct this injustice and includes a bipartisan payfor that fully offsets the spending authorized by this legislation. In addition to introducing legislation, I held a hearing on this matter and have done everything in my power to right this wrong. CLICK HERE to read more.
Providing a Mechanism to Strip Bill Cosby of the Presidential Medal of Freedom
Last July, President Obama stated, "There's no precedent for revoking a medal…We don't have that mechanism." In January 2016, I introduced legislation to ensure there is a mechanism in place to strip Cosby, or anyone else found dishonorable, of the Medal of Freedom. The shocking admissions of Cosby during a 2005 deposition, make him unfit to retain our nation’s highest civilian honor. During a deposition on September 29, 2005, a lawyer, Dolores Troiani, asked Cosby, “When you got the Quaaludes, was it in your mind that you were going to use these Quaaludes for young women that you wanted to have sex with?” and Cosby answered “Yes.” One of my constituents said it best: "Civilian honors such as this come with no legal protections or guarantees...Honors are optional, and not anyone’s legal right to have and keep…The bar should be extraordinarily high for the Medal of Freedom, and to keep Cosby as a recipient greatly diminishes the very worth of that honor." The Hollywood Studios Resort at Disney World removed a bronze bust of Cosby in July 2015, and 23 out of 60 universities—including Brown, Fordham, George Washington, and Marquette—have stripped Cosby of honorary degrees. CLICK HERE to read more.
Federal regulations affect almost everything we do. Some regulations are necessary - they protect consumers, public health, the environment, and many other things. Before coming to Congress, I owned and operated my own dental practice for 25 years. I was required to follow numerous regulations from the Department of Labor, OSHA and the Department of Health and Human Services, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, among others. Many of these regulations were common-sense regulations, and were important in ensuring patient and worker safety.
But my small business was also faced with an array of unnecessary, burdensome, expensive, and sometimes even counterproductive regulations. As I travel to every corner of my 50,000 mile congressional district and meet with my constituents, I have found my personal experience as a small business owner is the same for many others. Individuals, businesses, and State and local governments are currently drowning in a sea of red tape and regulations. Former Congresses have allowed federal bureaucrats to run wild—developing far more regulations than necessary, often “solutions in search of a problem”—and it has cost our country dearly.
The regulatory burdens on individuals, businesses, and State and local governments have gotten exponentially worse in recent years. Even worse is the fact that numerous regulations are clear attempts to do an end-run around Congressional authority. Federal agencies have been establishing many rules and regulations that far exceed Congressional intent. In addition, those regulations have been developed without transparency and with little consideration for the negative impacts they may impose on our communities and the economy.
A study from the Heritage Foundation found that regulatory costs have increased $80 billion annually since President Obama took office. Information from the non-partisan Congressional Research Service reports that the Obama Administration has enacted nearly 22,000 new rules and regulations. A different study released by the Competitive Enterprise Institute found that Federal government regulations cost our economy $1.88 trillion in 2014 alone.
This regulatory environment is stifling our country’s economic growth. Businesses in this country simply cannot operate under these ever-changing regulations. By increasing the cost of doing business and limiting business practices, the federal government is discouraging innovation and prohibiting businesses from creating jobs.
It is impossible to make any type of long-term financial projection when another regulation that could impose major costs on the price to do business can be developed by a bureaucrat in Washington at any time. Further, these regulations amount to a “hidden tax,” because the costs of conforming with these regulations are passed on to the consumer in terms of higher costs.
This is the wrong approach, particularly following an anemic recession when jobs are still badly needed.
Our Founding Fathers intended for the federal government to be a small part of our everyday lives. The sooner we restore our independent spirit and encourage individual initiative, the sooner our economy will grow. To get there, Congress needs to reassert itself, override the job killing bureaucrats, and implement a whole-scale repeal of unnecessary and wasteful regulations.
The pervasive regulatory environment today requires constant oversight from Congress—the duly elected representatives of the people. It is unfortunate that the legislative and executive branches are often pitted against each other, but with the never-ending stream of costly and over-burdensome regulations, it is up to your elected representatives to ensure that your voice is being heard.
The REINS Act
To “rein in” this onslaught of regulations, I support a bill known as the Regulations from the Executive In Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act. This commonsense legislation requires a vote by Congress on any major rule or regulation that is expected to cost our economy more than $100 million annually. Currently, major rules take effect unless Congress passes and the President signs a joint resolution disapproving them. Clearly the status quo is unworkable and designed to thwart the will of Congress and the people. The REINS Act also makes commonsense reforms to the Congressional Review Act of 1996 (CRA) by requiring a joint resolution of approval pass Congress and be signed into law within 70 days prior to agency’s major rule taking effect. Reforms, such as the REINS Act are important steps in the process of improving the way the agencies carry out their functions and congressional intent. CLICK HERE to read more.
Blocking the EPA's Harmful WOTUS Regulation
The EPA’s new Waters of the U.S. regulation (WOTUS) was slated to go into effect August 28th. Fortunately, the Sixth Circuit has issued a nationwide stay and temporarily blocked implementation of this new rule. This job-killing, overreaching water grab being imposed by Washington bureaucrats is a dream killer for future generations that will result in significant job losses and in considerable harm to our economy. WOTUS contradicts prior Supreme Court decisions by expanding agency control over 60% of our country’s streams and millions of acres of wetlands that were previously non-jurisdictional. I have been fighting this overreach since the beginning. In May 2014, I sent a letter calling for WOTUS to be withdrawn. I held a hearing in Phoenix in June 2014 where we heard testimony from 9 Arizona witnesses. I have introduced legislation, inserted funding riders into appropriations bills, blocked a democrat amendment that tried to strip one of my WOTUS riders and voted at least five different times for legislation that has passed the House to block WOTUS. In July 2015, I berated EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and submitted revelatory evidence into the Congressional Record from senior Army Corps of Engineer employees which expressed serious legal and scientific deficiencies with the final draft of the WOTUS rule. In January 2016, the House and Senate passed legislation blocking WOTUS utilizing the Congressional Review Act and put a bill on President Obama's desk. CLICK HERE to read more.
Fighting back against Obama's War on Coal
The EPA recently unveiled its new “Clean Power Plan” rule which seeks to dramatically reduce carbon emissions from power plants. American families are projected to lose almost $600 billion in disposable income as a result of EPA’s new proposed regulation. An economic analysis also found that this overreaching Washington mandate will kill 226,000 jobs annually and cost our economy $50 billion each year. All of this economic harm and destruction for our economies will only result in a 1.8% reduction of global carbon-dioxide emissions by the year 2030. I have cosponsored legislation and twice voted for bills that passed the House to block this overreach. I also requested a funding rider that was inserted into a House appropriations bill and offered an amendment to formally withdraw this new mandate. In December, the House successfully passed S.J.Res.23 and S.J.Res.24 with my support and triggered the Congressional Review Act to effectively block the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) arbitrary regulations for new and existing power plants. Unfortunately, President Obama used a pocket veto days before Christmas in order to veto these critical pieces of legislation. CLICK HERE to read more.
In January 2016, the House passed legislation of which I am a cosponsor, H.R. 1644, the Supporting Transparent Regulatory and Environmental Actions in Mining Act (STREAM Act). A 2012 Economic Impact Study found that the Obama Administration’s announced Stream Protection Rule could potentially sterilize between 30% and 43% of recoverable reserves which will have devastating effects for both surface and underground coal mines. The study also found that the associated decline in annual coal production as a result of this rule will have a direct impact on our economy and employment, potentially killing between 133,441 and 273,227 mining-related jobs, and having an associated economic impact of $18 to $25 billion annually. Obama’s continued efforts to implement his ideologically-driven coal regulations will kill hundreds of thousands of jobs and take billions of dollars out of the pockets of hard-working Americans. This important legislation will save mining jobs throughout the country and put an end to the Obama Administration’s secret science justification for the president’s war on coal. CLICK HERE to read more.
Blocking the EPA's Unrealistic New Ozone Standards
I recently introduced legislation that will block the EPA’s new ozone regulation published in the Federal Register October 26, 2015. H.J.Res.74 utilizes the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to reject this overreach and already has more than 75 cosponsors. Most states are just beginning to adopt the 2008 ozone standards as the EPA didn’t announce implementation guidance and a final rule until March 6, 2015. Rather than allowing time for those standards to be implemented, the EPA moved the goal posts and is unilaterally seeking to dramatically lower the ozone standard to 70 parts per billion. The EPA has reported that 358 counties throughout the country will be immediately noncompliant, and Senator Inhofe has reported that an additional 1,500 counties likely will not meet this new mandate. Nearly 700 stakeholders throughout the country have called on Congress to stop the overreaching new ozone rule that many believe is “the most expensive regulation in history.” On June 12, a witness from the EPA contradicted the need for this new mandate when she testified June 12 before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and stated, “Nationally, since 1980, average ozone levels have fallen by a third.”
Arizona’s Generation and Transmission Cooperatives strongly supports this legislation stating, “The revised ozone standards, if fully implemented, would be the most expensive mandate in our nation’s history. The impact on many rural communities would be particularly profound… Rural communities served by AEPCO, where in some areas up to a third of the population we serve live at or below the federal poverty level, already face economic hardship. Job losses in every sector of the local economy have been staggering, and most communities where people receive our power have yet to recover. The cost of this proposal to the rural Arizona worker is real and immediate, while the benefits are unverified and uncertain. We thank you for your leadership in blocking the implementation of the new ozone standard, which threatens the livelihood of rural communities throughout the U.S. and Arizona.” CLICK HERE to read more.
Protecting Local Zoning and Property Rights
President Obama’s new AFFH regulation marks his most aggressive attempt yet to force his utopian ideology on American communities disguised under the banner of ‘fairness’. This new regulation isn’t about fair housing, as housing discrimination based on race has been illegal for more than 40 years. American citizens should be free to choose where they would like to live and not be subject to big government neighborhood engineering. Local zoning decisions have traditionally been, and should always be, made by local communities, not bureaucrats in Washington DC. The House of Representatives has voted twice to defund the AFFH rule by passing my amendments during consideration of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development funding bills for fiscal years 2015 and 2016. More information on those votes can be found HERE and HERE. I have also introduced the Local Zoning and Property Rights Protection Act, H.R. 1995, to prohibit this new regulation.
Prohibiting Executive Overreach and National Monument Designations
Special interest groups have been pushing for the president to circumvent Congress and make a massive 1.7 million acre designation using the Antiquities Act for the Grand Canyon Watershed. The intentions of these self-interest groups are clear: they want this designation to prevent energy development, timber harvesting, grazing, mining and different types of recreation on this massive swath of land. A designation of this size would cause significant harm to our economy and kill thousands of local jobs. In February, I led an effort that was supported by 24 members of Congress to opposing this declaration. In July, the House of Representatives passed the Gosar-Hardy amendment to block this potential designation and prohibit public land management agencies from carrying out declarations under the Antiquities Act in counties throughout the nation where there is significant local opposition. In November, I introduced H.R. 3946, the Protecting Local Communities from Executive Overreach Act, legislation which updates the 1906 Antiquities Act in order to protect property rights, water rights and jobs from presidential abuse of the Antiquities Act. H.R. 3946 is supported by all five Arizona House Republicans and blocks two misguided monument efforts in the Grand Canyon Watershed and the Sedona Verde Valley, both of which have significant local opposition. CLICK HERE to read more.
The No Welfare for Weed Act
A Fox31 Denver investigation from February of last year revealed tens of thousands of dollars have been pulled out of ATM’s using welfare EBT cards and been used to purchase marijuana. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell stated in a letter to Senator Sessions that the federal government does not have the authority to prevent states from allowing welfare recipients to purchase marijuana with welfare benefits. H.R. 2331, the Bipartisan No Welfare for Weed Act, provides a mechanism and prohibits marijuana from being purchased with SNAP and TANF welfare benefits. CLICK HERE to read more.