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.
The Government Accountability Office found that about 35% of major regulations are issued without a public comment period.
The Chamber is building support for commonsense regulatory reform based on three bipartisan principles.
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.
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.
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.
With these principles in mind, the Chamber is advancing two bipartisan bills to reform and modernize the regulatory system:
Total compliance costs for federal regulations are $2 trillion annually.
The Regulatory Accountability Act, already passed by the House, would modernize the regulatory process by increasing transparency during the rule development process, allowing interested parties to meaningfully participate in the process, and making agencies consider alternatives that achieve their objective at a lower cost.
The Sunshine Act, also passed in the House, would bring greater transparency and accountability to the sue and settle process, by requiring federal agencies to inform the public when they settle lawsuits brought by special interest groups and agree to issue new regulations on accelerated timeframes. Affected parties would have more opportunity to participate in these agreements.
Reforming our government’s regulatory system should unite Americans and their competing interests not divide them. The U.S. Chamber calls on the Senate to take up and pass both of these regulatory reform bills.
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
This new study from the U.S. Chamber, "The Growing Burden of Unfunded EPA Mandates on the States", describes how the relationship between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the states has devolved into a system where states are forced to implement more and more federal environmental programs with progressively less money from federal sources.
"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.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President for Government Affairs Bruce Josten issued the following statement today upon the White House’s release of its final guidance for environmental reviews conducted under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA):
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