Chamber's strategy on regs: ‘When all else fails, sue ’em’

Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue on Monday laid out a three-fold plan to combat what the powerful business lobby views as overzealous Obama administration regulation. 

The group intends to take the fight to Congress, federal agencies and, when necessary, the courts, Donahue told reporters at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast.

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“We’ve got to move on this very quickly before it consumes us,” Donohue said, listing regulatory issues as a top priority for the Chamber. “We need regulation in this country — any orderly society does — but when regulation becomes bigger than the thing we’re trying to regulate, it gets really worrisome.” 

Business groups have complained loudly about the number of rules emanating from federal agencies, saying they are driving up the cost of doing business in the United States and stifling economic growth.

Many of the regulations are directly tied to federal statute. For instance the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law and the Affordable Care Act, two landmark laws approved by Congress, alone require hundreds of new federal rules.

But critics argue many new rules are unnecessarily restrictive or beyond congressional intent.

“ObamaCare is a prime example of regulation amok,” Donohue said.

He said opponents of the healthcare law are stuck with it, but should endeavor to make changes to the law where it is not working as intended.

Donohue said the Chamber plans to work with Congress to advance legislation “to restore balance and sanity” to the rule-making process. While he did not discuss any bills in particular, there are several measures pending in both chambers of Congress that would limit agencies’ regulatory powers and give lawmakers more power to block expensive rules.

He said the Chamber would continue working through formal channels at agencies to influence the language of final regulations.

“And when all else fails: Sue 'em.” He said. “The Chamber will not hesitate to take the fight to the courts.”

Business groups have fought on numerous fronts to kill or dial back regulations through litigation. While the results have been mixed, opponents have been successful in some cases in having rules struck down or delayed. 

The Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed regulations to limit greenhouse gas emissions from power plants — a major component of President Obama’s climate change effort — is among the rules now facing a legal challenge.