Oversight Committee Democrats Oppose Bills That Would Threaten Regulatory Protections for the Public and Policing in D.C.
Washington, D.C. (February 7, 2024)—Rep. Jamie Raskin, Ranking Member of the Committee on Oversight and Accountability, led Democratic opposition to H.R. 262, the All Economic Regulations are Transparent (ALERT) Act, and H.R. 5798, the Protecting Our Nation’s Capital Emergency Act. The ALERT Act would misleadingly require reporting of the costs of federal regulations without the corresponding benefits. The Protecting Our Nation’s Capital Emergency Act would overturn certain police accountability and transparency reforms recently enacted by the District of Columbia in the Comprehensive Policing and Justice Reform Amendment Act of 2022 (CPJRAA).
“H.R. 262, the ALERT Act, is yet another attack by Republicans on the regulatory protections that safeguard the health and security of the American people and the strength of our economy. Under the guise of increasing transparency, the bill imposes duplicative and burdensome new reporting requirements on federal agencies that actually undermine transparency by showcasing only the costs of federal regulations in the monthly reports required by this bill, while hiding the corresponding benefits,” said Ranking Member Raskin in his statement on H.R. 262, the ALERT Act.
“H.R. 5798 is a shocking assault on local democracy, and a new low in this Committee’s appalling efforts to override local government and micromanage the people of D.C. Of everything we could do to reduce crime and protect citizens in our Nation’s Capital, Republicans apparently want to make it harder for the D.C. Chief of Police to fire or discipline officers who themselves commit crimes or serious misconduct. You heard me right. Republicans’ big anti-crime initiative is to make it easier for criminals to remain on the D.C. police force,” said Ranking Member Raskin on H.R. 5798, the Protecting Our Nation’s Capital Emergency Act.
H.R. 262, All Economic Regulations are Transparent (ALERT) Act
This Republican legislation would impose significant requirements on federal agencies to reproduce and republish information about their rulemaking activities that is already generally available to the public. It also prohibits new rules from taking effect until such information has been posted on the internet by the Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs for six months.
While Committee Democrats strongly support transparency in the rulemaking process, H.R. 262 undermines its stated goal of advancing transparency by requiring reporting of the costs of proposed and finalized rules without the corresponding benefits, misrepresenting the full impact of rulemakings in an attempt to mislead the public. The bill would also impose additional responsibilities on federal agencies to duplicate much of the information already publicly available, including on Regulations.gov, and within narrow, unworkable implementation deadlines that would require agencies to shift limited resources away from fulfilling their existing statutory responsibilities.
H.R. 5798, Protecting Our Nation’s Capital Emergency Act
Committee Democrats opposed H.R. 5798, the Protecting Our Nation’s Capital Emergency Act, which would repeal certain provisions of the District of Columbia’s police accountability and transparency laws enacted last year. This Republican bill would do nothing to reduce criminal violence in Washington, D.C. and would make it harder to fire bad cops.
First, the bill would repeal a provision of the law – requested by D.C. police chiefs – that removed police disciplinary matters from collective bargaining. Second, the bill would reimpose a 90-day statute of limitations for claims against police officers, which was repealed by the D.C. Council because it was repeatedly used by officers seeking to avoid accountability in disciplinary cases. This arbitrary 90-day timeline led to officers who have committed serious misconduct, like rape and domestic violence, staying on the police force. The bill would repeal a provision that required the police department to publish on a public website a schedule of adverse action hearings in which the proposed discipline for an officer is termination, including the date, time, and location of the hearing, the name and badge number of the officer, and a summary of the alleged misconduct or charges. Finally, the bill would remove the ability of the Chief of Police to increase the recommended disciplinary penalty for an officer.
The District of Columbia’s police accountability and transparency law was passed unanimously by the D.C. Council two years ago. Committee Democrats strongly support the District’s right to self-governance and autonomy.
Additional Legislation Passed to Strengthen Vote-by-Mail Tracking, Improve Delivery of Government Services, and Require Congressional Notification When Agency Heads Are Incapacitated
H.R. 5658, the Vote By Mail Tracking Act, introduced by Health Care and Financial Services Subcommittee Ranking Member Katie Porter and Cybersecurity, Information Technology, and Government Innovation Subcommittee Chairwoman Nancy Mace, would ensure that mail-in ballots in federal elections contain a Postal Service barcode and an official election mail logo to enable tracking capabilities and verify legitimacy. The bill would also make it easier for the Postal Service, election officials, and voters to sort and track mail-in ballots. The bill passed with bipartisan support.
H.R. 5887, the Government Service Delivery Improvement Act, introduced by Rep. Ro Khanna, creates a Federal Government Service Delivery Lead position in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) tasked with governmentwide coordination of efforts to improve federal agency delivery of government services to the public. Working with lead service delivery officials designated at each federal agency, the Service Delivery Lead would develop and oversee the implementation of governmentwide standards, policies, and guidelines to improve government service delivery, and would evaluate agency progress, including by collecting and reporting information, data, and metrics.
H.R. 6283, the Delinking Revenue from Unfair Gouging (DRUG) Act, introduced by Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks and Nanette Diaz Barragán, would prohibit pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) participating in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program from receiving remuneration for their services other than in the form of a flat bona fide service fee, ending the practice of PBMs receiving rebates or discounts from drug manufacturers based on the list price of a medication. It would also prohibit such PBMs from engaging in “spread pricing,”—the practice of charging a health plan more for a medication dispensed by a pharmacy than the amount the PBM pays the pharmacy—and from “steering” patients to pharmacies owned, controlled by, or affiliated with the PBM. Committee Democrats repeatedly emphasized the need for additional information and greater transparency around PBM practices to ensure that this legislation would achieve its intended goal without creating unintended consequences that could increase prescription drug costs for patients. In addition to emphasizing the need to consider more comprehensive solutions that address the root causes of high prescription drug costs, including the role of pharmaceutical companies, Committee Democrats offered amendments to increase transparency around PBM practices and improve the DRUG Act. One amendment introduced by Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi requires the Director of the Office of Personnel Management to report information on services provided by a health benefit plan or PBM on a public website on an annual basis. Another amendment introduced by Rep. Stephen Lynch would allow the Inspector General of the Office of Personnel Management full access to information relating to FEHB contracts entered into by PBMs.
H.R. 6972, the Securing Chain of Command Continuity Act, would require any agency head who is a member of the National Security Council to notify the Executive Office of the President, Government Accountability Office (GAO), and congressional leadership within 24 hours in the event of medical incapacitation.
H.R. 7184, the Congressional Budget Office Data Access Act, introduced by National Security, the Border, and Foreign Affairs Subcommittee Chairman Glenn Grothman and Government Operations and the Federal Workforce Subcommittee Ranking Member Kweisi Mfume, would improve the speed and accuracy with which the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analyzes the budgetary impact of proposed legislation. The bill does so by providing CBO an exemption to the Privacy Act of 1974 similar to those held by GAO and Congress, allowing it to more easily access data and information maintained by federal agencies that it needs to conduct its assessments.
H.R. 7219, the Information Quality Assurance Act, introduced by Subcommittee Chairwoman Lisa McClain and Subcommittee Ranking Member Katie Porter, would require the Director of OMB to update the guidance issued under the Information Quality Act to better ensure the quality of information and evidence federal agencies use in promulgating regulations.