ICYMI--Toomey: Congress Should Have Say Over New CFIUS Regs
Washington, D.C. - On the Senate floor this afternoon, U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) explained why Congress should have to approve any major new regulations written by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). Legislation currently being debated in the Senate would delegate to CFIUS significant rulemaking powers in order to scrutinize and block transactions on "national security" grounds. To ensure those rules are consistent with the letter and spirit of the new law, Sen. Toomey is offering an amendment to simply require Congress to first have an up-or-down vote on CFIUS' major regulations.
Individual transaction decisions would not go to Congress for a vote under Sen. Toomey's amendment - just the regulations guiding CFIUS activity. A vote on the Toomey amendment is expected tomorrow.
Below are excerpts from Senator Toomey's remarks:
- "This is really remarkable in terms of how much power is being delegated to the executive branch to write these [CFIUS] rules. The rules could be written in a way that they're written too broadly. And if they're too broad, it could have a chilling effect on foreign direct investment in the United States, which is huge source of jobs and economic growth... on the other hand, if they write these rules too narrowly, it could be that CFIUS doesn't have sufficient authority and transactions that we ought to be blocking don't get blocked."
- "There's no member of the Senate who can know in advance whether or not the rulemaking is going to strike the right balance, and that is what we need here."
- "Why wouldn't we insist on the responsibility of overseeing this, and in fact having final say, to make sure that this is done properly, that the right balance is struck... This is what my amendment is all about. What my amendment simply does, is it would require Congress to approve the major rules, not every last rule, but all the important major rules that CFIUS would develop pursuant to this legislation [the National Defense Authorization Act]."
- "I want to appeal to my colleagues, and maybe for different reasons to support this legislation. For my Republican colleagues, 39 of us are cosponsors of the REINS [Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny] Act. The REINS Act would require congressional review of every regulation throughout the entire government. Every time a major new rule, under the REINS Act, Congress would have to vote before it goes into effect. If the REINS Act that 39 of my Republican Senate colleagues have cosponsored, if that were the law, we wouldn't be having this conversation because this rulemaking would automatically come under the jurisdiction of the REINS Act... I can't for the life of me understand why any Republican who supports the REINS Act wouldn't support this, and I hope that all of my Republican colleagues will."
- "I would appeal to my Democratic colleagues as well...A big majority of our Democratic colleagues voted against confirming several of the members of CFIUS. A big majority of Democrats voted against confirming the Treasury Secretary...they voted against confirming Attorney General Sessions, they voted against confirming Secretary of State Pompeo, those three individuals are on CFIUS... so if my Democratic colleagues had such serious reservations about the work product that would come from these individuals that they voted against confirming them, you would think you'd want the opportunity to have some say on their work product."
- "What this comes down to is I think we accept responsibility for the work that we do, and the work that we delegate... Let's make sure that this really important and necessary expansion of CFIUS authority is done right... The way we do that, is we make sure Congress has the final say over the rulemaking."
Watch Senator Toomey's full remarks.