Bipartisan bill would overhaul regulatory system, target ‘mega-rules’

Pryor (D-Ark.) co-authored the Senate version with Sen. Rob. Portman (R-Ohio). Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Joe Manchin (D- W.V.), Angus King (I-Maine), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), and John Cornyn (R-Tex.) have sponsored the bill.

The House companion is backed by Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), Colin Peterson (D-Minn.), Lamar Smith (R-Tex.), William Owens (D-N.Y.), Howard Coble (R-N.C.) and Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.).

Known as the Regulatory Accountability Act, the bill was approved by the House in the last Congress, but stalled in the Senate. It is among several ongoing legislative efforts to soften the blow of the thousands of federal rules issued by agencies every year.

While agencies currently conduct cost-benefit analyses of many proposed rules, the bill introduced Thursday would further codify the practice and require agencies to adopt the most cost-effective approach to achieve their goals. It would also allow for judicial review of the analyses of major rules to ensure agencies don’t make irrational assumptions about their economic impacts.

The bill would also force agencies to disclose the data they use to justify the need for additional regulations, as well as provide the increased congressional scrutiny for the handful of rules that surpass the $1 billion cost threshold.

Bill Kovacs, senior vice president of regulatory affairs for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, lauded the bill’s reintroduction.

“Our regulatory process has not been updated in more than six decades, and as a result we are seeing a rising number of massive, costly rules that breed uncertainty, drive up costs, and stifle hiring and investment,” Kovacs said.