Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee Approves Bill to Make Federal Regulations Smarter, More Effective to Provide Certainty to Businesses & Consumers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) announced today that the Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee approved their Regulatory Accountability Act on a bipartisan basis.  The legislation is designed to make federal regulations smarter and more effective so they better support businesses, families, and jobs by modernizing the federal regulatory process that hasn’t been significantly reformed in 70 years.

I’m pleased that the committee has advanced this bill on a bipartisan basis.  This has been a very collaborative process, and I want to thank Senator Heitkamp for making this a better bill,” said Senator Portman.  “This bill would create a smarter regulatory process that promotes job creation, innovation, and economic growth, while also continuing to protect public health and safety and the environment.  We will continue to work with members on both sides of the aisle to get their input, and I would urge the Senate to take up this common-sense, bipartisan bill.”

Across North Dakota, families, business owners, and workers tell me one of their biggest concerns is about the challenges that federal regulations can pose – but they’re also concerned about keeping our families safe and air clean,” said Senator Heitkamp.They shouldn’t have to choose between the two. Our bipartisan bill would make sure rules are written to support families and businesses, while avoiding unfairly holding them back with unnecessary red tape. Today, the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs agreed – passing our bipartisan bill that would help accomplish these goals. I greatly appreciate Senator Portman’s work on this bill and look forward to continuing to work with him as we move it forward, and I hope others senators join this important discussion. And I’ll keep fighting for commonsense, effective reforms that support job growth, improve certainty, and keep our communities safe for generations to come.” 

To see Senator Portman’s opening remarks at the markup, click here.

NOTE: Portman and Heitkamp’s Regulatory Accountability Act would reform the federal regulatory process to cut red tape so federal programs operate as intended, and are effective and efficient for those just trying to do their jobs. The measure is based on bipartisan executive orders from the past five presidents, and it would result in a more transparent, accountable regulatory process that would yield more effective regulatory outcomes for American businesses, workers, and their families. Specifically, the bill would:

  • Require Effective Cost-Benefit Analysis.  The bill would codify the duty to analyze the costs and benefits of new regulations. It would also require agencies to adopt the most cost-effective approach to achieve their objectives.  To hold agencies accountable, the bill would permit a judicial check on an agency’s cost-benefit analysis of major rules — the 40 to 80 costliest regulations out of the more than 3,000 issued each year.  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.
  • Improve Transparency and Accountability in the Federal Regulatory Process. The bill would invite early public participation on major rules and require federal agencies to disclose the information they rely upon, ensuring that there is greater transparency in the rulemaking process. It also would ensure that agencies use sound scientific and technical data to justify new rules, in keeping with calls for agencies to use the “best available science” to craft regulations.
  • Provide Certainty for Businesses and Consumers. Many of the requirements the regulatory system operates under are contained in executive orders, which can be changed overnight. Codification of the key bipartisan regulatory executive orders that have been in place from President Reagan through President Obama today would provide certainty to federal agencies, as well as businesses and consumers. Federal agencies would also be required to better consider the concerns of people and businesses on the ground that regulations would directly impact.
  • Create an Automatic Review Process for Major Regulations. The bill would require federal agencies to build in an automatic review for the largest, most significant rules at least once every 10 years to ensure that those rules are still meeting regulatory objectives and work as intended, and to consider whether they could be improved to produce better results or be more cost-effective.
  • Allow Federal Agency Hearings on the Most Significant Regulations. The measure would require federal agencies to follow a more evidence-based approach in crafting rules that will cost more than $1 billion annually. This legislation would give those impacted by the regulations access to an agency hearing to test the key disputed facts underlying these mega-rules. While it would require additional work on the front end, the result would be lower costs and more stable regulatory outcomes. 

Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) are original cosponsors of the bill.  A full summary of the bill can be found here, a comparison between the House and Senate bills here, and the text here

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