The chairmen of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee are teaming up to investigate Health and Human Services' newly formed Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO). Reps. Fred Upton, R-Mich., and Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., are respectively turning their attention toward tackling the bureaucracy of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul law, just one day after the House of Representatives voted to repeal the law by a significant margin.
While the repeal legislation is widely expected to stall in the Senate, Upton and Stearns' actions signal that the Republican House majority will move forward in trying to dismantle the law one piece at a time.
On Thursday, Upton and Stearns sent a joint letter to CCIIO director Jay Angoff requesting further information about the office's structure and authority. In addition, the Republican House members requested specific information on the office's recent decisions in granting waivers to several businesses and labor unions which temporarily exempt them from complying with the new federal law's requirements.
At least 222 companies have qualified for the ObamaCare "waivers." (Click here for the complete list)
“Most troubling is that your office is currently responsible for deciding who does not have to comply with the massive new regulations imposed by the PPACA [Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act],” the letter stated. “Currently your office has approved waivers from the PPACA’s annual limits requirements for 222 applicants.”
“In a Nov. 30, 2010 meeting with Ranking Minority Member Michael Burgess, you stated that your office had also denied waiver requests. We would appreciate if your office would explain how a decision is made on whether compliance with the PPACA is necessary.”
According to the Daily Caller, the letter was also sent to Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee.
On a separate front, The Hill reports that Upton has also announced plans to carefully examine the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) climate change regulations this year.
In a document outlining his agenda for the year, the Energy and Commerce chair stresses that it is "critical" the Obama administration refrain from "imposing its new global warming regulatory regime, which will undermine economic growth and U.S. competitiveness for no significant benefit."
"While the individual items included in the document are not surprising, the agenda, taken as a whole, illustrates the breadth of GOP opposition to the White House energy and environment agenda," The Hill notes.
According to GOP's "agenda," the EPA has been responsible for regulating "too much too fast" without fully examining the widespread impacts on job and economic vitality. In response, the committee is looking to direct its attention toward breaking the EPA's regulatory "chokehold" to help spur economic recovery.
“The stakes could not be higher,” the document says. “If the Obama administration succeeds in imposing unaffordable and unworkable permitting and other rules through EPA, it will severely impede the domestic manufacturing and industrial growth necessary for this nation to create jobs and emerge from a devastating recession."
Reigning in the EPA may also help put a small dent in the nation's rising debt. Columnist Art Horn noted Thursday that the federal government will spend about $4 billion on global warming research this year, "despite the fact that there has been no global warming since 1998, and despite all of the billions that have been spent so far yielding no conclusive evidence that using fossil fuels to make energy has any significant effect on Earth’s temperature... In 2011, your government will spend $10.6 million a day to study, combat, and educate about climate change," he wrote.
With new polls suggesting an overwhelming majority of Americans are feeling the pressure of rising gas prices, the committee has also signaled its intent to tackle what it calls "artificial" burdens on U.S. domestic oil drilling.
“In the face of $4 gasoline, calls for increased supply will be stronger than ever,” the agenda states. “We will respond by promoting affordable, abundant and secure sources of energy by preventing the administration’s regulatory overreach and expanding access in an environmentally responsible way” -- a response that will include reducing "regulatory red tape" at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.