Sunset for US balance of powers


Richard Moore

Original source URL:

June 23rd 2006
White House, GOP Leaders Plan All-Out Assault on Federal Protections

Apparently rushing to lock in a long-sought goal before the fall elections, GOP 
congressional leaders may bring to a vote within weeks a proposal that could 
literally wipe out any federal program that protects public health or the 
environment--or for that matter civil rights, poverty programs, auto safety, 
education, affordable housing, Head Start, workplace safety or any other 
activity targeted by anti-regulatory forces.

With strong support from the Bush White House and the Republican Study 
Committee, the proposal would create a "sunset commission"--an unelected body 
with the power to recommend whether a program lives or dies, and then move its 
recommendations through Congress on a fast-track basis with limited debate and 
no amendments.

Three leading proposals have been introduced and are being winnowed into a final
version. They would give the White House some--or total--authority to nominate 
members to the commission. House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) has 
confirmed that his office is coordinating development of a final version for 
prompt floor action.

Sunset commissions have been proposed, and defeated, before. But public interest
veterans say the current situation is unlike any in the past, because the House 
Republican Study Committee, which includes some of the most anti-regulatory 
members of Congress, has secured guaranteed floor consideration of a sunset 

If such a bill should become law, the sunset commission could be packed with 
industry lobbyists and representatives from industry-funded think tanks, and 
could conduct its business in secrecy. Two of the sunset proposals under 
consideration would mandate that programs die after they are reviewed, unless 
Congress takes action to save them.

Several environmental programs have been targeted during past sunset attempts. 
Experts predict those would be among the first a sunset commission would review.
Among them: the Energy Star Program; federal support for mass transit; the State
Energy Program, which supports numerous state and local energy renewable 
efficiency programs; the Clean School Bus Program; the Land and Water 
Conservation Fund; federal grants for Wastewater infrastructure; a national 
children's health study that examines factors leading to such problems as 
premature birth, autism, obesity, asthma, and exposures to pesticides, mercury 
and other toxic chemicals.

A coalition of public interest groups is fighting to block enactment of a sunset
commission. Information is available through the Sunset Commission Action Center
at OMB Watch.

BushGreenwatch | 1717 Massachusetts Ave NW 6th Floor |Washington, DC 20036 | 
(877) 843-8687

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