One Small Step for the U.S. Senate, One Giant Leap for Regulatory Reform | U.S. Chamber of Commerce
May 16, 2017 - 12:00pm

One Small Step for the U.S. Senate, One Giant Leap for Regulatory Reform


Senior Manager, Communications & Strategy

This week, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs will take an important step toward modernizing our outdated regulatory system, which has remained virtually untouched since 1946. The fifteen member committee will mark up and vote on S. 951, the “Regulatory Accountability Act (RAA).”

When the Senate bill was introduced in April, the Chamber’s Senior Vice President and Chief Policy Officer Neil Bradley issued a statement applauding Senators Portman and Heitkamp for proving to America that bipartisanship is still alive in Washington. It underscored the necessity of updating the rules governing our rulemaking process:

The rules governing the federal regulatory system were written in the Truman administration, with few updates since then. Now, under the Trump administration, it’s past time to modernize the process. The Regulatory Accountability Act would increase scrutiny of the most expensive rules that cut across industries and sectors, requiring greater transparency and agency accountability.

Should consideration of RAA move to the full Senate as expected, it has the backing of more than 600 business groups, representing all 50 states and a diverse group of industries from agriculture and aerospace to manufacturing and financial services. 

The U.S. agriculture community has long been one of the bill’s staunchest supporters. The head of the nation’s largest agricultural organization, American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall issued a statement the day that the bill was introduced. “This bipartisan effort is one that should be welcomed by all stakeholders – farmers, ranchers, policymakers, state officials, environmentalists, scientists – anyone who wants a system that is open, transparent, and fair and who recognizes the current system fails to live up to our expectations.”

But it’s not just the agricultural community that recognizes the importance of restructuring the administrative state to ensure that federal agencies execute the intent of Congress in an accountable and transparent way.  The president of the Aerospace Industry Association said, “The bill would elicit greater public input in the regulatory rulemaking process and require agencies to choose the lowest-cost rulemaking alternative to meeting statutory objectives.”

And the chairman of the National Home Builders Association added, “This bipartisan legislation will help ease regulatory burdens on home builders and other small businesses by making the regulatory process more transparent, federal agencies more accountable and regulations more cost-effective.”

Those in the forest products industry were also vocal in their support of RAA: “Americans deserve regulations that do more good than harm, and the Regulatory Accountability Act would make that common sense standard the law,” said Donna Harman, President and CEO, American Forest & Paper Association. In a joint-statement of support, Robert Glowinski, President and CEO, American Wood Council, added, “Congress should hold all regulatory agencies accountable by law to ensure smarter regulation, and this bill will help do that. Sensible regulations can provide important public benefits, but poorly designed regulations can undermine sustainable development and erode the public’s confidence in our government.”

“The Regulatory Accountability Act is a great example of Congress working how it’s supposed to,” said Jon Melchi, Vice President, Heating, Air-conditioning and Refrigeration Distributors International. “With such an overwhelming amount of support from so many organizations and associations across the country, we are seeing a fantastic display of bipartisanship on a piece of legislation that will benefit all American businesses.”

With such broad support from the business community and the U.S. House of Representatives, the Senate now has a unique opportunity to fundamentally change the way that agencies adopt the most costly rules that can stunt job creation, slow economic growth, and disproportionately impact small businesses.

RAA would ensure there is greater scrutiny and transparency in the rule-making process, that the data backing decisions is sound and appropriate, and that these rule-making agencies are held accountable for their actions.

Now is the time to modernize our regulatory system. Let’s put commonsense first and finally pass the Regulatory Accountability Act.

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Profile Picture Sarah Keller
Senior Manager, Communications & Strategy