Make Them Hear You! Abolishing Federal Agencies

Make Them Hear You! is a weekly feature on KGNU, produced by Chris Mohr, letting listeners know how they can have their voices heard on issues up before Congress. You can hear it Wednesday mornings at 8.20am during the Morning Magazine.

Have you heard Steve Bannon’s assertion that, at the top of Trump’s agenda, is the “deconstruction of the administrative state.” What does Bannon mean?

For decades now, constitutionalists and libertarians have held that there are three legitimate branches of government: the legislative branch, the Executive branch, and the Judicial branch. But now, they say, a fourth administrative branch of government has emerged, which they claim makes millions of regulations with no constitutional authority. They would like to see this fourth branch of government deconstructed, as Bannon puts it.

In fact, these agencies are extensions of the Executive Branch, ideally developing regulations such as fire codes, environmental protections and health codes. If the rules become odious, they can be overturned by executive orders, lawsuits, and legislation, all of which supersede administrative regulations.
Mainline conservatives have tried to “starve the beast” by trimming funding of administrative agencies and thereby limiting their power. Republicans and some reform-minded Democrats have tried to reduce the number and types of regulations on the books to prevent agencies like the EPA, the FDA and others from overzealous regulators. But Steve Bannon’s fringe movement to actually eliminate entire agencies has now become mainstreamed.

As one example, Republican Thomas Massie introduced a bill in the House. Here is the text of that bill, in full: “The Department of Education shall terminate on December 31, 2018.”
And Steve King’s HR 610 would drastically reduce the role of the Department of Education, mostly limiting it to giving block grants for education vouchers to states that have programs for private and home schooling options. It would also repeal certain nutrition standards in schools.

With these bills, we’d have no federal department to administer $67 billion in Pell Grants and other help to students. No oversight over states when they break civil rights laws. No department to check on inequality between low-income wealthy school districts. We’d be stuck with inconsistent education data, since the quality of data would vary among states. We could expect more gender discrimination within schools. We’d have no way to hold schools accountable for the federal funds they get.

Another example: A few weeks ago, Congressman Matt Gaetz introduced H.R. 861, that states, “The Environmental Protection Agency shall terminate on December 31, 2018.” In a debate last March, Trump said of the EPA, “We are going to get rid of it in almost every form.”

If you’re concerned about the abolition of Federal agencies, you can call or write your representative and register your opinion.

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