White House threatens veto of anti-regs bill

The White House on Tuesday issued a forceful veto threat, as House Republicans prepare to pass legislation placing new restrictions on the federal government’s regulatory authority.

As part of what has been dubbed as “regs week” in Washington, the House is expected to vote as early as Wednesday on legislation combining four GOP-sponsored proposals intended to put new requirements on agencies charged with drafting new rules.

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The Achieving Less Excess in Regulation and Requiring Transparency (ALERRT) Act would force agencies to conduct additional analyses before enacting regulations, and is touted by proponents as providing additional transparency to the rule-making process.

Critics of the bill call it a thinly veiled attempt to derail regulators charged with drafting important public safeguards.

The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) said late Tuesday that it “strongly opposes” the bill, and President Obama’s advisers would urge him to veto the measure.

 “The bill would impose unneeded and costly analytical and procedural requirements on agencies that would prevent them from performing their statutory responsibilities,” the OMB said in a formal policy statement issued ahead of the vote.  “It would also create needless regulatory and legal uncertainty, increase costs for businesses and State, local and tribal governments, and impede common-sense protections for the American public.”

Further, the bill would place unnecessary new procedures on agencies — subjecting them to “frivolous” litigation, according to the OMB.

The administration argues that agencies face statutory requirements to draft regulations and are already subject to a host of restrictions under the Administrative Procedure Act, the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (UMRA), the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA), and the Congressional Review Act.

Additionally, presidents hailing from both political parties have issued executive orders governing agency rule-making, including measures meant to ensure regulations are justified by their costs.

And ultimately, the OMB argues, regulations are subject to judicial review in the federal courts system.

The bill “would replace this time-honored framework with layers of additional, unnecessary procedural requirements that would seriously undermine the ability of agencies to execute their statutory mandates,” the White House said.