Berg pushes anti-regulation agendaFor 11 months, North Dakota Rep. Rick Berg has been on a mission to quash “overbearing regulations” coming from Washington, D.C. But with little luck in the face of paralyzing partisanship, the freshman Republican ramped up his efforts Wednesday in announcing an agenda to reduce red tape and bureaucracy through legislative means.
By: By Kristen M. Daum, Forum Communications Co., The Jamestown Sun
FARGO — For 11 months, North Dakota Rep. Rick Berg has been on a mission to quash “overbearing regulations” coming from Washington, D.C.
But with little luck in the face of paralyzing partisanship, the freshman Republican ramped up his efforts Wednesday in announcing an agenda to reduce red tape and bureaucracy through legislative means.
Berg’s agenda to limit federal regulations was inspired by visits with small-business owners in Bismarck and Fargo in September. Berg discussed with them the challenges they face because of federal oversight.
“It’s clear that we’re all frustrated with Washington,” Berg said Wednesday during a speech on the House floor. “These burdensome regulations threaten job creation. They are the biggest challenge facing our economy.”
The slate of proposals he announced includes both past and future bills.
In the coming days, Berg said he plans to introduce legislation to limit restrictions he says are overreaching from agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency.
So far this year, Berg’s office says he has co-sponsored 19 bills seeking to limit federal rules on spending, energy, job creation and health care.
One of those bills passed the House Wednesday by a 237-184 vote, with unanimous support from Republicans, such as Berg.
The so-called “REINS” Act is a “key part” of Berg’s newly unveiled agenda, because it would require Congress to hold up-or-down votes on every new rule with an annual economic impact of $100 million or more.
Berg, who was an original co-sponsor of the bill, likened it to administrative rules requirements in the North Dakota Legislature, which provide a check and balance on spending.
“It’s probably one of the top three things that I’ve seen out here that fundamentally change the way Washington works,” Berg told The Forum.
But like other GOP-backed legislation this year, such as nearly two dozen bills promoting job creation, Berg said he fears the REINS Act will die from inaction in the Democratic-led Senate.
Such unwavering partisanship between the two chambers has been the roadblock to achieving further progress in Congress this year, Berg said.
“I can’t control what the Senate is going to do,” Berg said, adding that the inaction of congressional leaders is “very frustrating to me.”
However, North Dakota Democrats say Berg has only added to the deadlock.
“Instead of working across party lines … Berg has been hyper-partisan, doing the bidding of partisan special interest groups and voting in lock-step with his party leadership,” Democratic-NPL spokesperson Alison Kelly said.
Berg’s new regulations agenda seems more like an attempt “to look busy” rather than accomplish legislative action of substance, Kelly said.
“He’s been ineffective,” she said.
Kristen Daum is a reporter
at The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.