Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., introduced an amendment today to make it harder for the federal government to impose mandates on the private sector unless there are funds provided to pay the costs associated with those laws.
"Every time Washington pushes an unfunded mandate onto the backs of small businesses, operating costs increase and hinder the economy’s ability to grow, create jobs and compete in the global economy. My bill would stop this burden on the private sector," said Enzi, member of the Budget Committee, Small Business Committee and the Senate’s only accountant
Enzi offered his amendment to the Senate Budget Resolution, S. Con. Res. 21. Enzi’s measure would protect small businesses and the private sector by establishing a 60-vote Senate threshold to pass legislation that imposes burdensome, unfunded federal mandates. Under the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995, legislation imposing unfunded mandates above $66 million on state and local governments requires 60 votes to pass. The Enzi amendment would establish that same threshold for mandates on the private sector. Unfunded mandates are laws imposed on organizations that are not accompanied by appropriate funds to execute the laws.
Enzi was disappointed by the close 47-49 vote that kept his amendment from inclusion in the final bill.
Budget Consequences for Wyoming
Wyoming residents filed 245,733 individual tax returns in fiscal year 2006. Wyoming taxpayers will see their taxes go up if the $2.8 trillion budget being debated on the Senate floor is passed into law, according Enzi.
"The authors of this resolution see higher taxes as a way to solve our nations financial problems, but increasing taxes is not the way to balance a budget," said Enzi. "Much of the federal tax relief Wyoming tax payers have grown to rely on to pay their bills goes by the wayside in this budget."
A vote on S. Con. Res. 21 is expected later this week.
Statement of Michael B. Enzi
FY2008 Budget ResolutionAmendment to Create a Point of Order for Imposing Mandates on the Private Sector
March 22, 2007
Mr. President, I call up Senate Amendment # 497. My amendment is very simple: it establishes a 60-vote threshold for legislation that imposes unfunded mandates on small businesses, as determined by the Small Business Administration, in excess of the $131 million threshold for FY2007 established in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (UMRA).
As my colleagues may know, small businesses make up 99.7% of all US employers, and employ 50% on the Nation’s non-farm private sector workers—according to the Small Business Administration. Congress has an obligation to make sure laws written in Washington don’t unfairly burden Main Street.
The Unfunded Mandates Reform Act already requires CBO to estimate the cost of mandates that Congress imposes on the private sector. Right now there is currently a 60-vote point of order against legislation if the CBO federal mandates estimate has not been printed in the committee report or Congressional Record.
The FY2006 Budget Resolution Conference Agreement included a 60-vote point of order for imposing unfunded mandates on State and local governments. And if this FY2008 Budget Resolution is adopted, in order to spend federal money, there will be four different 60-vote Budget Act points of order, over 19 different time periods, that must be adhered to in order to spend federal money. I think the Senate should have a new 60-vote point of order that applies to legislation that creates unfunded private sector mandates. It is time for Congress to remember that our actions here in Washington have very real monetary consequences on the small business owner in Buffalo, Wyoming, or Conway, New Hampshire.
I came to Washington from Wyoming as a firm believer in the 80/20 rule. We can reach agreement on 80% of the issues – and we’re probably never going to reach agreement on the other 20%. Any unfunded mandates that the Congress imposes on the private sector should fall in the 80% category – and receive strong support on both sides of the aisle. This 80/20 rule was a guiding principle of my chairmanship at the HELP Committee during the 109th Congress. And for what was supposed to be a partisan Committee, we accomplished a tremendous amount of work. In fact, President Bush signed 27 Committee bills into law.
We here in Washington must stop thinking that we have a monopoly on good ideas. And to that end, the Senate needs a procedural tool to remind ourselves that the policies we pass in Washington often translate to direct cost increases for businesses on Main Street. This is a common-sense proposal, and I urge my colleagues to support the amendment.
I yield the floor.