CQ TODAY ONLINE NEWS
Nov. 29, 2011 – 10:57 p.m.
House GOP Expands Regulation Fight
By Geof Koss, CQ Staff
House Republicans are making good on pledges to try to shrink the size of government by bringing legislation to the floor in coming days that would restrain the regulatory powers of executive branch agencies.
The House already has passed bills this year targeting specific regulations, especially those from the EPA. But the upcoming measures collectively represent a wholesale attempt to overhaul the federal regulatory apparatus by imposing new cost-benefit considerations on rulemaking, requiring congressional approval for rules with major economic effects and making it easier for outside parties to challenge agency actions in courts.
For instance, legislation (
Additionally, the bill would force agencies to consider the “indirect” costs of regulation when determining the economic benefits of a proposed rule, a requirement that Democrats and consumer advocates complain is too vague.
Federal agencies would have to consider the indirect costs of regulations on small businesses under another bill (
Both bills — sponsored by House Judiciary Chairman
A third bill (
Industry has long sought the rulemaking changes, which supporters maintain will create jobs and boost the economy by limiting unnecessary regulations. Critics charge that the bills would undercut public health and consumer protections by tying the hands of regulators.
“Each of these bills would make it virtually impossible for federal agencies to ensure that American families are protected from tainted food, unsafe drugs, predatory financial schemes, dirty air and water, and dangerous workplaces,” wrote the Coalition for Sensible Safeguards, which includes more than 70 consumer and public interest groups, in a Tuesday letter to lawmakers.
The measures “are dangerous proposals that will not create one new job or solve any of the pressing problems facing our country,” wrote the coalition, which includes Public Citizen and OMB Watch. “Instead, they will waste federal resources and increase the power of big corporations over American families.”
Public Citizen President Robert Weissman said the coalition is reaching out to lawmakers, including wavering Democrats, to make its case about the far-reaching implications of the bills, which he said are being promoted as “bipartisan, procedural and technical” changes by their sponsors.
“All three would have the effect of derailing the regulatory process,” said Weissman, who along with Rep.
In addition, the House and the National Labor Relations Board have scheduled for Wednesday dueling votes about union elections.
House GOP Expands Regulation Fight
The House plans to take up a bill (
Not Enough Support in Senate
While House passage of the three bills appears all but assured, similar regulatory overhauls have fallen well short of the 60 votes needed to pass in the Senate in recent months.
The chamber voted twice this month against broad amendments that contained a companion version to Davis’ bill. In June, the Senate rejected a GOP amendment to an unrelated economic development bill that also sought to ease the regulatory burden on small businesses. Like
The Obama administration has taken a dim view of sweeping regulatory overhauls. Cass Sunstein, the head of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in June that he feared “unintended adverse consequences” of some of the bills, including increased litigation and increased regulatory uncertainty.
“For example, while there is an important role for judicial review of regulations, a significant expansion of judicial review in rulemaking could create unintended complexity in the regulatory system, preventing important rules from taking effect,” he testified.
The Obama administration threatened Tuesday to veto both of Smith’s measures. In separate statements of administration policy containing similar language, the White House said the bills would “impose unnecessary new procedures on agencies and invite frivolous litigation,” which would “seriously undermine the ability of agencies to execute their statutory mandates.”
The Obama administration also threatened earlier this month to veto a Senate Republican proposal (