Dec 12, 2016 - 9:00am

Fighting Government’s Fourth Branch

Chief Executive Officer, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

As the new administration and Congress prepare for the year ahead, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is gearing up to help them unwind many of the burdensome regulations imposed on businesses over the last eight years. We are also ready to aggressively support measures that would reform and modernize the regulatory system itself.

In his efforts to repeal existing regulations, President-elect Trump  will have the power to quickly undo some of President Obama’s executive orders by issuing executive orders of his own. Other regulatory reforms will require going through the lengthier  and more complicated rulemaking process. The Chamber is already working with transition officials to identify priority areas where relief is most urgently needed.

For example, we are urging immediate action to undo the Department of Labor’s Fiduciary Rule. If enacted, it would choke economic growth, increase frivolous litigation against financial advisers, and make saving for retirement more difficult for hardworking Americans. Another regulation that warrants immediate action is the Environmental Protection Agency’s Waters of the U.S. rule, which places unnecessary restrictions on the use of land throughout the country that may have water on it. These are just two on a long list of contenders.

The current administration knows that many of its regulations are at risk, so it’s rushing to pile on nearly 100 additional rules before leaving office. To fight these, the Chamber is strongly supporting the Midnight Rules Relief Act, which was recently passed by the House. It would allow Congress to simultaneously repeal multiple regulations from the last months of a president’s term, as opposed to holding time-consuming individual votes on each rule.

Further, congressional leaders should prioritize legislation that would reform the way rules are made and enforced. We led a coalition of 380 business associations and local chambers to urge House leaders to move quickly on the Regulatory Accountability Act in the next Congress. It would make the regulatory process more transparent, agencies more accountable, and regulations better targeted to solve existing problems without creating new ones.

As many of the Chamber’s member companies can attest, the biggest threat to free enterprise isn’t coming from Congress, the White House, or the courts. Rather, it’s coming from federal agencies, which wield their regulatory power to act as an unaccountable fourth branch of government. The power of these agencies has seen unbridled growth over the last eight years. With the new administration and Congress, we have an extraordinary opportunity to reverse that growth and modernize the entire regulatory system.

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About the Author

About the Author

Thomas J. Donohue
Chief Executive Officer, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Thomas J. Donohue is chief executive officer of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.