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.

Search all Regulatory Reform content


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.

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

Regulatory Indifference Hurts Vulnerable Communities
February 2016

Truth in Regulating: Restoring Transparency to EPA Rulemaking
April 2015

Charting Federal Costs and Benefits
August 2014

Regulatory Reform: Improving Our Rulemaking Process
December 2013

Sue and Settle: Regulating Behind Close Doors
May 2013

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

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

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

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., 01/21/2017
E.g., 01/21/2017

Dear Senator Grassley and Representative Collins:

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce supports H.R. 469 and S. 119, the “Sunshine for Regulatory Decrees and Settlements Act” and thanks you for introducing this important legislation. The Sunshine for Regulatory Decrees and Settlements Act would help address the abusive “sue and settle” process that allows special interest groups to use lawsuit settlements to take effective control of an agency’s agenda and regulatory priorities.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017 - 3:30pm
Press Release

Bradley: ‘We have to get these rules right’

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Chamber Senior Vice President and Chief Policy Officer Neil Bradley issued the following statement today praising House passage of H.R. 5, which includes the Regulatory Accountability Act: 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017 - 7:00pm
Press Release

Business Community Optimistic, Realistic, and Ready for Meaningful Reform to Reignite Spirit of American Enterprise

WASHINGTON, D.C.— U.S. Chamber President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue said today in his annual “State of American Business” address that fostering stronger, faster, and more broadly shared economic growth must be the top priority for the nation’s leaders.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017 - 9:30am


The U.S. Chamber of Commerce supports H.R. 78, the “SEC Regulatory Accountability Act,” and H.R. 79, the “Helping Angels Lead Our Startups Act.” Taken together, these bills would hold the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and its rulemaking process more accountable to the American public, and allow angel investors to continue to play an important role in the economy.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017 - 10:00am

What is Sue and Settle?

"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.

Monday, January 9, 2017 - 3:30pm