The SCRUB Act: Undermining Public Health and Safety

The Searching for and Cutting Regulations that are Unnecessarily Burdensome (SCRUB) Act is yet another attempt by some Republicans in Congress and the Trump administrationto undermine the regulatory agencies responsible for protecting the water we drink, the food we eat, and the air we breathe, among countless other potential threats to the public health and safety. The SCRUB Act (H.R. 998) creates the unelected Retrospective Regulatory Review Commission, which is tasked with reducing the cumulative cost of regulation by 15 percent, while only “minimally reducing the overall effectiveness of such regulation.” The Commission would be empowered to recommend repealing any regulation, which would then trigger a vote in Congress. The criteria used to assess if a regulation is outdated or stifling is dangerously broad and is highly susceptible to lobbying by big business. The SCRUB Act also includes a provision that would require agencies to offset the cost of any new rule by eliminating regulations already in place. The bill has passed the House and will be voted on in the Senate soon.

Sample Call Dialogue 

Caller: Good morning/afternoon! Can you please let me know the Senator’s position on the SCRUB Act?

OPTION 1: SUPPORTS THE SCRUB ACT

  • Staffer: Thank you for calling! [Senator Hernandez] supports the SCRUB Act.

    Caller: I see. I find it alarming that [Senator Hernandez] supports the formation of an unelected commission tasked with cutting regulations that protect public health, public safety, and worker safety. The SCRUB Act limits the ability of agencies to do their job and opens the door to meddling by big business. I disapprove of my tax dollars going to fund such an unnecessary, harmful, and unelected commission.

    Staffer: I understand your concern, but the new commission will only target ineffective regulations and Congress will still need to approve their recommendations. Plus, the commission will also dissolve after five years once their work has been accomplished.

    Caller: This unelected commission would still have the power to undermine critical environmental standards, consumer protections, and workplace safety rules—especially given Congress’s tendency to rubber-stamp everything that is coming out of the Trump administration. Agencies have experts with on-the-ground knowledge, and every rule-making requires years of public comments and input so that each regulation is a cost-effective safeguard to protect Americans. This bill undermines that process. Will you will notify [Senator Hernandez] that I think it’s wrong for [him/her] to support the SCRUB Act?

    Staffer: I will certainly pass on your concerns to the Senator.

OPTION 2: OPPOSES THE SCRUB ACT

  • Staffer: Thank you for calling! [Senator Hernandez] opposes the SCRUB Act.

    Caller: That’s great to hear. The SCRUB Act limits the ability of agencies to do their job and opens the door to meddling by big business. I worry that President Trump and key members of Congress are trying to dismantle vital protections for our workforce, our environment, and our health. Please thank the Senator for opposing the SCRUB Act and tell him to continue to oppose efforts that undermine our public health and safety.

OPTION 3: DODGES / HAS NO POSITION

  • Staffer: Thank you for calling! I have no idea what the SCRUB Act is, but I’m happy to take down your concerns. 

    Caller: That’s disappointing to hear. The SCRUB Act (H.R. 998) is a very important issue for Americans. The bill would create an unelected commission with sweeping powers to strip our agencies of their ability to protect public health and safety.

    Staffer: I didn’t know that, but I’m happy to take down your concerns.

    Caller: Here’s my concern: President Trump and some members of Congress are trying to dismantle vital protections for our workforce, our environment, and our health by empowering an unelected commission to needlessly cut important rules. Agencies have experts with on-the-ground knowledge, and every rule-making requires years of public comments and input so that each regulation is a cost-effective safeguard to protect Americans. The SCRUB Act undermines that process. I hope [Senator Hernandez] will publicly state [his/her] opposition to the SCRUB Act and oppose all other efforts to undermine our public health and safety. Can I count on [Senator Hernandez] to stand up for constituents like me on this issue?

    Staff: I will certainly pass on your concerns to the Senator.

    Caller: Please do, and please take down my contact information to let me know when the Senator has made up [his/her] mind. I’m eager to hear what [he/she] decides.
     

ScriptsCaroline Kavit