The REINS Act, which I cosponsored and the House recently passed, would partially address this problem by enabling Congress to ultimately approve or reject "major" executive rules and regulations. This would significantly improve accountability in both the executive and legislative branches, and my colleagues and I are working on reforms to achieve similar goals as part of the Article I Project.
However, it's not just executive branch agencies that are operating with insufficient accountability. For too long, the legislative branch has failed to address legislative priorities in a transparent manner. Congress has habitually passed large, must-pass bills at the last minute. Loosely related and controversial provisions are frequently attached to these bills under pressure from outside organizations, who know that their best chance to address pet projects is a must-pass bill.
Such provisions ride the host legislation like a parasite, forcing members of Congress to either accept a pyrrhic victory by taking the good with the bad, or reject it outright at the expense of the good. The American people deserve better from their elected officials.
To address this problem, I recently reintroduced the One Subject at a Time Act (H.R. 395). My bill would require Congress to consider only one subject per bill or resolution. Every legislative provision would be forced to stand on its own two legs, rather than hitching a ride on a stronger host, and make its case to the American people. This would ensure that voters are aware of what their legislators are spending taxpayer dollars on. And it would prevent unpopular items from becoming or remaining law.
Voters and taxpayers deserve to know what their government is doing. Important issues and programs, particularly controversial ones, should be debated individually and in the open. And the American people, not special interests, should decide what legislative priorities are. These are principles that the American people believe in. They are part of our national identity.
This Congress, I hope we can remember those principles, pass my legislation, and continue working to make government accountable to the people again.
Rep. Mia Love represents Utah's Fourth Congressional District.