May 23, 2013

Portman, Pryor Renew Push to Reduce Red Tape on Job Creators

Bipartisan, Bicameral Measure is Biggest Effort to Reform Regulatory Process in More Than a Decade

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Mark Pryor (D-AR) today renewed their push to significantly reform the federal regulatory process and reduce unnecessary burdens on job creators.  The Regulatory Accountability Act of 2013 reforms the current rulemaking process to lower the costs and improve the quality of new regulations.  U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Joe Manchin (D- WV), Angus King (I-ME), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Mike Johanns (R-NE), and John Cornyn (R-TX) are original cosponsors of the bill. 

This bipartisan, bicameral effort, first introduced last Congress, is the first of its kind in more than a decade to reform and minimize regulations that stifle economic growth.
“Smart regulation requires a balanced approach, and many Ohio businesses tell me they have been held back by the burden and uncertainty of increasing red tape,” Portman said.  “Through stronger cost-benefit analysis and greater transparency, this commonsense legislation will build a less costly, more stable regulatory environment for job creation and growth.”

“We’ve made great strides when it comes to our economy, but we can do more to encourage small and large companies alike to grow and thrive—and that starts with streamlining our regulatory system,” Pryor said.  “By building a decision-making process based on results and costs, our bill fights overreaching regulations to give businesses the certainty, confidence, and flexibility they need to invest and expand.”

“No business owner I know questions the legitimate role of government in protecting the health, safety, and well-being of the public and employees.  Far too often, however, our small businesses are buried under a mountain of paperwork, driving up costs and impeding growth and job creation,” Collins said.  “I have heard, over and over again, from employers that it is the climate of uncertainty and excessive regulation coming from Washington that is discouraging them from hiring.  Our bill is a common sense approach to reforming the regulatory process to help create jobs.”

“We want to protect public health and worker safety, and do so in a common-sense way,” Nelson said.  “So, we want to make sure that when federal agencies consider new regulations they weigh the cost as well as the benefit.”

“As a small businessman for many years, I know that we must remove unnecessary rules and regulations to spur economic growth and a thriving job market,” Manchin said.  “We need government to work smarter, and federal agencies to operate with complete transparency and maximum efficiency.  This commonsense legislation will provide a thoughtful balance between beneficial federal regulations and prospering private businesses.  We’re not asking government to be our provider; we want government to be our partner.”

“I hear constantly from businesses in Maine that are struggling to thrive under the weight of excessive regulatory burdens,” King said.  “By strengthening cost-benefit analysis, increasing transparency, and further scrutinizing high-impact rules, this common sense piece of legislation will provide better checks on the regulatory process and ensure that the government is enacting sensible, scale-appropriate regulations that don’t stifle innovation or impose unwieldy compliance burdens.”

“We should be doing everything we can to make it easier for America’s business owners to grow and create jobs, and that includes reforming our nation’s regulatory climate to unleash investment, innovation, and job growth,” Ayotte said.  “This legislation is a commonsense step toward ensuring that regulators better understand the impact on the private sector before imposing new and potentially costly federal regulations.”

“Our nation’s job creators are ensnared in a growing tangle of Washington red tape,” Johanns said.  “While some guidance is important to ensure a fair market and safe workplace, many regulations are being issued with little input from those affected and result in unnecessary burdens and high compliance costs.  This legislation offers a straightforward, transparent approach to the regulatory process by sifting out unnecessary and burdensome regulations, while allowing only those based in strong science and proven cost-effective results.”

The United States government issues over 3,000 new, costly rules and regulations every year.

The Regulatory Accountability Act  legislation seeks to modernize the Administrative Procedure Act by strengthening cost-benefit analysis across all agencies, improving transparency in the rulemaking process, and providing a more rigorous examination of facts underlying the most expensive rules. 

First, the bill would codify the duty to analyze the costs and benefits of new regulations. It would also require agencies to adopt the least costly or most cost-effective approach to achieve their objectives.  To hold agencies accountable, the bill would permit a judicial check on an agency’s cost-benefits analysis of major rules — the 40 to 80 costliest regulations out of the over 3,000 issued annually.  This review would be deferential, but the courts would ensure that agencies do not rely on irrational assumptions or treat cost-benefit analysis as a mere afterthought — as too often occurs today.

Second, the bill opens the regulatory process to greater transparency.  It invites early public participation on major rules and requires agencies to disclose the data they rely upon.  It also would ensure that agencies use sound scientific and technical data to justify new rules, in keeping with the President’s directive that agencies should use the “best available science” to craft regulations.

Third, the bill would require agencies to follow a more evidence-based approach in crafting rules that will cost more than $1 billion annually.  These high-impact rules are relatively rare — the White House identified seven in development last year — but the cost of getting them wrong is steep.  That’s why this legislation would give stakeholders access to an agency hearing to test the key disputed facts underlying these mega-rules. It will take some additional work on the front end, but the result will be lower costs and more stable regulatory outcomes.

Read a two page summary of the specific key provisions of The Regulatory Accountability Act here.

Companion legislation was also introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives today by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law Subcommittee Chairman Spencer Bachus (R-AL) and Representative Colin Peterson (D-MN), along with Representatives Lamar Smith (R-TX), William Owens (D-NY), Howard Coble (R-NC), and Kurt Schrader (D-OR).