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Last year, in the 175 days that the U.S. House of Representatives was in session, it passed more than 190 anti-regulatory bills. Putting profits over public safety and they are still at it. Next up is H.R. 4078, the “Regulatory Freeze for Jobs Act of 2012,” a bill that wrongly calls for a halt on all public health and consumer safety protections until the unemployment rate reaches six percent. The House Judiciary Committee is expected to mark up the bill today, Tuesday, March 20.

 In reality, public protections strengthen the economy and make our country stronger, safer and more secure. Our nation has made advancements beyond the wildest dreams of our Founders, due largely to the standards put in place that protect everyone. Here’s a short list of some of the things public health protections have done for our country: Made our food safer; Saved tens of thousands of lives by making our cars safer; Made it safer to breathe, saving hundreds of thousands of lives annually; Protected children’s brain development by phasing out leaded gasoline and lead-based paint, dramatically reducing blood lead levels.

The Regulatory Freeze for Jobs Act of 2012, will threaten all these protections that we as Americans take for granted and under this bizarre legislative rubric, many regulatory actions that do not fit the popular conception of public health and consumer safety standards would be halted. A great example of this is the Pharmaceutical Approval Standards. Every five years, Congress reauthorizes the Prescription Drug and User Fee Act (PDUFA), which establishes the framework for Food and Drug Administration approval of new medicines as well as the Medical Device User Fee Act, which functions similarly for medical devices. Both acts are set to be reauthorized this year.  And both acts are designed to keep drugs and medical devices for consumers safe.

 But the absurdity of H.R. 4078 is that if it is passed, Congress will tell agencies, “don’t enforce the laws that we pass.” Simply put, if the House passes this bill, it would essentially be sabotaging these two acts. The folks who drafted this bill obviously did not think it through and we will see unsafe drugs and medical devices on the market. Clearly this bill is a danger to our public health and consumer safety protections and should not be passed.

 

Co-authored with Nassima Hossain

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