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Wasteful Catfish Inspection Is Ripe for Repeal

by Nan Swift / /

National Taxpayers Union (NTU) applauds Senate passage of S.J. Res. 28, a resolution under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to disapprove of the Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) duplicative “catfish inspection” program. The resolution passed 55-43 with broad bipartisan support.

“S.J. Res. 28 is a particularly shrewd use of Congress’ Congressional Review Act authority and the USDA’s wasteful catfish inspection regime is ripe for repeal. The program is a posterchild for unnecessary regulation that created a barrier to free trade, hurting consumers and our relationships with trading partners abroad. The Senate’s actions demonstrate what Congress can accomplish when both parties put taxpayers above parochial interests,” explained NTU Federal Affairs Manager, Nan Swift.

S.J. Res. 28 could mark just the second time that the CRA has successfully been used by Congress to overturn a federal regulation promulgated by a government agency. Created as part of the 1996 “Contract with America,” the CRA has thus far only overturned one rule: the Clinton Administration’s Department of Labor ergonomics proposal. At the time in 2001, Republicans held the House, Senate, and the Office of President, making it comparatively easy to be signed into law.  To succeed with bipartisan backing in a divided government would make S.J. Res. 28 and the fight to repeal the catfish program all the more remarkable.

S.J. Res. 28 is also unique in that unlike most other uses of the CRA, the catfish inspection regulation did not originate in a federal agency. Indeed, the USDA and Office of Budget and Management (OMB) did everything possible to avoid finalizing the rule repeatedly forced on them by Congress, who permitted the quasi-earmark to be included in past Farm Bills. 

The resolution would likely pass the House, where the program has bipartisan opposition, and President Obama appears inclined to give it his signature, having already pegged it for elimination in a past budget.

NTU and U.S. Public Interest Research Group have jointly advocated for the cancellation of the USDA catfish inspection program, despite different perspectives on the size and scope of government. On behalf of taxpayers, NTU urges the House to take up S.J. Res. 28 at the first available opportunity.

More information regarding S.J. Res. 28 and the catfish program can be found online here.