Regulatory Reform

The Chamber recognizes the need for smart regulations to ensure workplace safety and protect public health. But with a $2 trillion price tag in compliance costs and an increasing number of huge and complex rules, it’s clear the regulatory system isn’t working the way it should. Americans deserve a working regulatory system that is fair for everyone, takes into account the views of communities and businesses, evaluates the impact rules will have on jobs and small businesses, and protects our economic and personal freedoms.

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The Chamber recently conducted a series of research projects to unscramble the federal regulatory process. By examining specific elements of the rulemaking process, it became apparent where the system was breaking down and where reform was needed most. 

Although the federal regulatory process produces thousands of new regulations each year, only a tiny percentage of these regulations have a truly significant impact. Yet, federal agencies issue these complex and costly regulations with the same ease as the most insignificant. Regulations are not a one size fits all and must take into account the views of communities and businesses, evaluate the impact on jobs and the economy, and protect our economic and personal freedoms.
The process must be reformed so that the country can get back to work without the undue, unchecked burden of overregulation.  Therefore, the Chamber is building support for commonsense reform based on three bipartisan principles.
  1. Accountability. Federal agencies need to show that the costliest rules are truly needed and are written to use the least costly option available to achieve their objective.
  2. Transparency. Agencies must be open about why and how they make key decisions to regulate, and avoid making those decisions in secret under pressure from special interest groups, entirely outside of the normal rulemaking process.
  3. Participation. Agencies should be required to inform the public of pending regulatory decisions on high-impact rules early in the process, share their data and economic models, and allow those who will be affected adequate time for public input.

To learn more about the regulatory process and why reform is needed, check out these reports. Each reports examines a different aspect of the regulatory process, including the permitting process for infrastructure projects, federal efforts to take control of state environmental programs, the impact of regulations on employment, the use of “sue and settle”, the costs and benefits analysis of new rules, whether agencies are honest in telling the public what they are regulating, and how regulations can impact vulnerable communities.

Environment, Technology and Regulatory Affairs Reports

The Growing Burden of Unfunded EPA Mandates on the States report cover image

The Growing Burden of Unfunded EPA Mandates on the States
August 2016

Regulatory Indifference Hurts Vulnerable Communities
February 2016

Truth in Regulating cover

Truth in Regulating: Restoring Transparency to EPA Rulemaking
April 2015

Charting Federal Costs and Benefits report cover

Charting Federal Costs and Benefits
August 2014

Report cover - Improving Our Rulemaking Process

Regulatory Reform: Improving Our Rulemaking Process
December 2013

Sue and Settle report cover

Sue and Settle: Regulating Behind Close Doors
May 2013

Impacts of Regulations on Employment report cover

Impacts of Regulations on Employment
Examining EPA’s Oft-Repeated Claims that Regulations Create Jobs
February 2013

EPA's New Regulatory Front report cover

EPA’s New Regulatory Front
Regional Haze and the Takeover of State Programs
July 2012

Project No Project report cover

Project No Project
A Study on the Potential Economic Impact of Permitting Challenges Facing Proposed Energy Projects
March 2011


Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness Reports

Restarting The Growth Engine: A Plan To Reform America’s Capital Markets

Federal Reserve Reform Agenda

Financing Growth: The Impact of Financial Regulation

Financial Stability Oversight Council Reform Agenda

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission: A Roadmap for Transformational Reform

Take Action


What’s the Problem?

The power of federal agencies to create sweeping new regulatory programs, as well as the cost of regulations themselves, has increased dramatically since the enactment of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) in 1946.  In recent years, there has been an unprecedented increase in multi-billion dollar, highly-complex rules issued by federal agencies. These rules have profound impacts on major sectors of the economy such as energy, banking, agriculture, and the Internet. Modernizing the APA, whose rulemaking provisions have remained virtually unchanged, is long overdue.

What’s the Solution?

The Regulatory Accountability Act (RAA) would update the 70-year old federal rulemaking process, improving transparency and accountability in the federal rulemaking process and ensuring that the most costly and high-impact rules are well-designed and tailored to accomplish their objectives without causing unnecessary damage to our nation's economy. Specifically, the bill would:

  • Allow for earlier public participation in shaping the most costly regulations
  • Require agencies to choose the lowest cost option that achieves the goal or demonstrate that a more costly option is necessary to protect public health, safety, or welfare
  • Allow for on-the-record administrative hearings for high-impact regulations so that interested parties can challenge agency assumptions and the reliance on poor quality data
  • Place restrictions on agencies’ use of interim final regulations


What Can You Do?


The latest updates across all U.S. Chamber properties

E.g., 03/29/2017
E.g., 03/29/2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue issued the following statement today on President Trump’s Energy Independence executive order:

Monday, March 27, 2017 - 11:00pm

"Sue and Settle" refers to when a federal agency agrees to a settlement agreement, in a lawsuit from special interest groups, to create priorities and rules outside of the normal rulemaking process. The agency intentionally relinquishes statutory discretion by committing to timelines and priorities that often realign agency duties. These settlement agreements are negotiated behind closed doors with no participation from the public or affected parties.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017 - 3:30pm
Above the Fold

Earlier this week, a group of 27 trade associations – lead by the Chamber of Commerce – asked Director Mulvaney to stay or rescind EEOC.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017 - 2:00pm
Press Release

Rulemaking Under Previous Administration was Rushed, Lacked Transparency and Full Participation

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Chamber of Commerce Senior Vice President of Environment, Technology, & Regulatory Affairs William Kovacs issued the following statement today after the Trump administration announced it is re-opening a review of vehicle fuel efficiency standards through Model Year 2025:

Wednesday, March 15, 2017 - 2:00pm

Dear Chairman Smith and Ranking Member Johnson:

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce supports the “Honest and Open New EPA Science Treatment (HONEST) Act of 2017” and the “EPA Science Advisory Board Reform Act of 2017.” These bills would improve the transparency and reliability of scientific and technical information that Federal agencies rely heavily upon to support new regulatory actions.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017 - 4:45pm

Dear Senators Blunt and King:

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce applauds you and the original cosponsors of the “Regulatory Improvement Act” for your leadership on regulatory reform issues. Moreover, we salute your collective efforts to ensure that regulatory reform is a bipartisan effort.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017 - 5:15pm

Dear Representative Walberg:

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce applauds you, as the original sponsor of H.R. 1004, the “Regulatory Integrity Act of 2017,” for your leadership on regulatory reform issues. The Regulatory Integrity Act would prevent federal agencies from improperly lobbying the public to support regulatory actions designed to expand the scope of an agency’s own authority. Agencies must be transparent, accountable, and fair in their regulatory actions.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017 - 5:15pm
Press Release

Business Community Pleased to See “Federal Land Grab” Reconsidered

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Chamber of Commerce Senior Vice President of Environment, Technology, & Regulatory Affairs William Kovacs issued the following statement today after President Trump signed an executive order instructing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to reconsider a 2015 regulation often referred to as the “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule:

Tuesday, February 28, 2017 - 3:00pm