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Backwards Conservatism: Feds Routinely Move to Limit State Power

A new Congressional report by minority staff in the House found that the House and the Senate have voted 57 times in the last five years to preempt state laws and regulations. These votes, the authors declare, make clear "that there exists a wide gulf between the pro-states rhetoric...and the actual legislative record."

Among the votes the reports highlights:

  • Passing legislation that would preempt states from regulating sources of air pollution
  • Votes to stop states from setting health insurance standards (Progressive States addressed this backwards policy in our May 11th Dispatch.)
  • Preempting states standards on contaminated food
  • Blocking tougher states laws against Internet "spam"

And the list goes on. The report shows that despite a rhetoric around "federalism", the current conservative-dominated Congress has been extremely hostile to state power, especially when state policy challenged the corporate contributors to rightwing politicians.

These preemptive policies are especially destructive given that while they prohibit state action on issues, they rarely put any real federal protections in place. Americans are best off when state policymakers are empowered to solve problems instead of having their hands tied by the federal government.

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