Thompson Co-Sponsored Government Litigation Reform Proposal Included in House-Passed Regulatory Reform Package

Jul 26, 2012 Issues: Agriculture, Allegheny National Forest

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Representative Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson today voted to support H.R. 4078, the Red Tape Reduction and Small Business Job Creation Act, a package of bills that reduce or streamline the federal regulatory process and require greater consultation by the Executive Branch with the private sector when developing new rules. The bill passed the House by a vote of 245 -172.

“It’s hard to grow and expand when the average small business faces an annual federal regulatory cost of roughly $10,000 per employee, which is just unsustainable,” stated Thompson. “H.R. 4078 places a needed check on the Administration’s most economically damaging regulations, while streamlining outmoded processes for federal permitting and regulatory reviews, which will make it easier for these smaller employers to do business in a still-fragile recovery.”

H.R. 4078 would put a moratorium on new regulations that would cost the economy $100 million or more until the unemployment rate falls to six percent or below, but makes exceptions for regulations necessary for public health and safety.

The bill also includes provisions from the Thompson-sponsored Government Litigation Savings Act, which would prevent abuse of the Equal Access to Justice (EAJA) Act. The EAJA, enacted in 1980, was designed to help individuals and small business entities with limited financial resources defend themselves in legal disputes with the federal government.  However, due to inadequate reporting requirements for the EAJA fund, the law has been utilized and abused by special interest groups to file lawsuits against the federal government, and subsequently be reimbursed at the taxpayers’ expense.  

“The Equal Access to Justice Act is increasingly used by large special interest groups, which were never the intended recipients, resulting in fewer resources being available for our small businesses and individual citizens,” stated Rep. Thompson. “H.R. 4078 creates tracking and reporting requirements on these payments, which will protect the taxpayer from financing special interest lawsuits and ensure that smaller entities receive the assistance they need, as intended under the law.”

Thompson has continually taken issue with the misuse of funds under the EAJA, including the strain it has posed on agency budgets, particularly the Forest Service, due to its lack of reporting controls.  Under EAJA, if a plaintiff prevails in a case over a federal agency and is awarded reimbursement, the funds for that reimbursement are charged against the agency’s budget.  

Early this year, Thompson testified before the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, stating: “Perhaps the greatest challenge to the Forest Service continues to be unnecessary litigation that continually hamstrings the Forest Service from carrying out its most basic duties.”