Regulatory Reform Legislation in the New Congress

by Chris Walker — Monday, Jan. 2, 2017@chris_j_walker

In the Washington Post yesterday, Dave Wiegel penned a fascinating article on the new Congress’s legislative agenda on regulatory reform. Here’s a taste from the article:

For six years, since they took back the House of Representatives, Republicans have added to a pile of legislation that moldered outside the White House. In their thwarted agenda, financial regulations were to be unspooled. Business taxes were to be slashed. Planned Parenthood would be stripped of federal funds. The ­Affordable Care Act was teed up for repeal — dozens of times.

When the 115th Congress begins this week, with Republicans firmly in charge of the House and Senate, much of that legislation will form the basis of the most ambitious conservative policy agenda since the 1920s. And rather than a Democratic president standing in the way, a soon-to-be-inaugurated Donald Trump seems ready to sign much of it into law.

The dynamic reflects just how ready Congress is to push through a conservative makeover of government, and how little Trump’s unpredictable, attention-grabbing style matters to the Republican game plan.

For those interested in exploring the variety of regulatory reform legislative proposals introduced in the last congressional session — many of which could be reintroduced in the new Congress — the Administrative Conference of the United States tracks such legislation here. Here’s a description of this ACUS project:

In the last three sessions of Congress, Members of Congress from both political parties have introduced a large number of bills designed to amend or overhaul certain aspects of the federal administrative state. Among other things, these bills would increase Congressional oversight over agencies, impose additional procedural requirements for agency rulemaking activities, require consideration of additional factors in analyzing proposed regulations, enhance requirements for cost-benefit analysis of proposed rules (including extending those requirements to independent regulatory agencies), and impose a regulatory budget requirement on agencies (mandating a repeal of one or more preexisting regulations prior to issuing a new regulation). Certain bills, such as the Regulatory Accountability Act, would involve an extensive restructuring of the rulemaking process at federal agencies, whereas others, such as the Data Security and Breach Notification Act, implement targeted reforms to certain procedures at specific agencies.

Given the significance of these proposed reforms and the large number of bills introduced, the Office of the Chairman of the Administrative Conference felt that it would be useful to compile a list of bills introduced in the last several years. The resulting memorandum represents the assiduous efforts of several past and current Conference interns (whose names appear at the top of the document). The Office intends to update this document periodically to introduce new bills and to reflect subsequent developments for existing bills. The document is intended only for informational purposes, and the Office makes no representation concerning its accuracy or completeness. In addition, the Office takes no position on the merits of the bills described. Please contact Research Chief Reeve T. Bull (rbull@acus.gov) with any recommended additions or changes to the memorandum.

It will be fascinating to see which legislation actually passes both chambers (if any), whether unusual congressional alliances emerge in support/opposition, and whether the President will sign any of it into law.

Cite As: Author Name, Title, 36 Yale J. on Reg.: Notice & Comment (date), URL.

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About Chris Walker

Christopher Walker is a law professor at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. Prior to joining the law faculty, Professor Walker clerked for Justice Anthony Kennedy of the U.S. Supreme Court and worked on the Civil Appellate Staff at the U.S. Department of Justice. His publications have appeared in the California Law Review, Michigan Law Review, Stanford Law Review, and University of Pennsylvania Law Review, among others. Outside the law school, he serves as one of forty Public Members of the Administrative Conference of the United States and on the Governing Council for the American Bar Association’s Section on Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice. He blogs regularly at the Yale Journal on Regulation.

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