Top Republican pushing reg reform bills

Top Republican pushing reg reform bills

Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) will introduce a package of regulatory reform bills Wednesday that he hopes will pass muster with Democrats, The Hill has learned.

The regulatory reform bills seek to end a number of controversial practices employed by federal agencies during the Obama administration. The legislation is expected to be marked up next week in the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

“No matter who the president is, the federal rulemaking process needs to be improved with greater transparency and accountability,” Lankford said in a statement.

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“This package of bills will produce a more efficient regulatory process, which will ultimately result in better regulations through earlier notice of proposed rules to the public, curbing the abuse of guidance documents, and forcing agencies to analyze the total impact regulations have on small businesses,” he added.

Let’s take a closer look:

— Before publishing a major regulation, federal agencies would be required to issue an advance notice of proposed rulemaking under the Early Participation in Regulations Act.

— Proposed rules must include a 100-word “plain language summary” under the Providing Accountability Through Transparency Act.

— The Truth in Regulations Act restricts the use of guidance documents by federal agencies.

— The package also includes the Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act and the Better Evaluation of Science and Technology (BEST) Act.

Some of these bills are new, while others have been introduced in previous sessions of Congress.

President Trump’s election has spurred a flurry of regulatory reform activities from Republicans, including controversial measures like the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act, which forces federal agencies to obtain congressional approval before issuing a major rule. The Searching for and Cutting Regulations that are Unnecessarily Burdensome (SCRUB) Act would also establish a task force responsible for repealing outdated regulations.

The Senate requires 60 votes to pass this legislation, and there are only 52 Republicans in the upper chamber. Measures like the REINS Act and SCRUB Act are considered by many to be too controversial to attract enough support from Senate Democrats to pass.

But Lankford hopes to strike middle ground with moderate Democrats on his package of reform bills. 

“I’m optimistic that some of the concerns that Senate Democrats have about the Trump presidency will bring them to support greater transparency and accountability for agency rulemaking, and that they’ll support these bills,” Lankford said.