A host of consumer and subfederal officials - including yours truly - are questioning a provision in H.R. 5840, an insurance bill on the House floor today. You can find their letters on the topic here, but today's Congress Daily has the main scoop:
Public Citizen, the Center For Economic Justice, and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group sent a letter Monday to lawmakers asking that they vote against the legislation by Financial Services Capital Markets Subcommittee Chairman Paul Kanjorski, D-Pa. The bill would allow the proposed office to establish federal policy on international insurance matters, ensuring that state laws are consistent with international trade agreements.
The groups argue the bill would give the office too much latitude to interpret international agreements on matters that are under congressional purview. They fear that such authority would allow the office to pre-empt state consumer protection laws.
"There is no way to predict -- and thus provide safeguards for -- all of the U.S. consumer protection measures that might annoy foreign insurance firms in the future. Thus, the very concept of empowering any federal agency to enforce such international commercial agreement obligations for foreign governments and firms against U.S. states is fatally flawed," the groups wrote.