|For Immediate Release
November 3, 2011
Contact: Kim Smith Hicks, 202-225-3951
Statement of Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith
Full Committee Markup of
H.R. 3010, the “Regulatory Accountability Act”
Chairman Smith: Employers across America face an avalanche of unnecessary federal regulatory costs. Federal regulations cost our economy $1.75 trillion each year. And the Obama Administration seeks to add billions more to the cost.
The Administration’s record-setting issuance of major regulations is particularly troubling. By its own admission, the Administration is preparing 200 regulations that each will affect the economy by $100 million or more per year.
For employers, the people who create jobs and pay taxes, the impact of these costly regulations is clear. Government regulation has become a barrier to economic growth and job creation. Faced with huge new regulatory burdens and uncertainties about what will come next, employers slow down hiring, stop investing and wait for another bill.
What enables the Administration to issue so many new regulations with so little regard for their costs is the outdated Administrative Procedure Act. Enacted in 1946, the APA’s minimal limitations on rulemaking have hardly changed in decades.
The APA does not require agencies to identify the costs of their regulations before they impose them. It does not require agencies to consider reasonable, lower-cost alternatives. The APA does not even require agencies to rely on the best reasonably obtainable evidence.
The Regulatory Accountability Act fixes this problem by bringing the APA up-to-date. Under its common-sense provisions, agencies are required to assess the costs and benefits of regulatory alternatives. Unless interests of public health, safety or welfare require otherwise, agencies must adopt the least-costly alternative that achieves the regulatory objectives Congress has established.
The Regulatory Accountability Act has bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate, including from a number of House Democrats who have cosponsored the bill. In large part, this is because its provisions are modeled on the executive orders that Presidents Reagan, Clinton, Bush and Obama have issued to compensate for the APA’s weaknesses.
Opponents of the Act claim that it requires the benefits of all new regulations to exceed their costs. They argue that, as a result, the Act will prevent federal agencies from issuing important new public health, safety and welfare regulations.
That is false. The Regulatory Accountability Act only requires agencies to adopt the lowest-cost regulatory alternative that achieves the agencies’ statutory objectives. This assures that agencies will achieve all of those objectives – but with much lower costs.
Opponents also assert that the Act’s new procedural requirements will halt all federal rulemaking. But the Act primarily codifies existing executive order principles and practices, under which agencies have been able to issue regulations. The Act’s few additional requirements all are streamlined. They will improve the quality and lower the costs of regulations but they will not unduly delay them.
The Act increases the transparency of the rulemaking process with more advance notices of proposed rulemaking, more opportunities for public comment and more opportunities for public hearings. This will lessen the influence of all special interests.
Republicans recently have passed multiple pro-jobs bills to stop the burdens of new regulations from harming America’s economic recovery. Some have supported those bills, but most have not.
The Regulatory Accountability Act provides the greatest opportunity yet for Republicans and Democrats to join together and lower the job-killing costs of regulations. And it allows costs to be lowered while it assures that all of Congress’ regulatory objectives are attained.
The bill also provides a clear opportunity for the votes of Democrats in Congress to match President Obama’s words on regulatory reform.
In his State of the Union Address, the President said that “[t]o reduce barriers to growth and investment . . . [w]hen we find rules that put an unnecessary burden on businesses, we will fix them.”
In Executive Order 13563, the President said that “[o]ur regulatory system . . . must promot[e] economic growth, innovation, competitiveness, and job creation;” “must allow for public participation and an open exchange of ideas;” “must identify and use the best, most innovative, and least burdensome tools for achieving regulatory ends;” and “must take into account benefits and costs.”
The President was right. And the Regulatory Accountability Act does all those things.