Senate bill would require all federal agencies to weigh costs of new rules

Under current rules, executive branch agencies are required to analyze costs and benefits of major proposed regulations, and the analyses are vetted by the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs OIRA).

But the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), the National Labor Relations Board and other independent agencies are not subject to OIRA review.

The new legislation, penned by Sens. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanMcConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees Overnight Finance: House approves motion to go to tax conference — with drama | GOP leaders to consider Dec. 30 spending bill | Justices skeptical of ban on sports betting | Mulvaney won't fire official who sued him How four GOP senators guided a tax-bill victory behind the scenes MORE (R-Ohio), Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerSenate panel moves forward with bill to roll back Dodd-Frank Comey back in the spotlight after Flynn makes a deal Warner: Every week another shoe drops in Russia investigation MORE (D-Va.) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Health Care: 3.6M signed up for ObamaCare in first month | Ryan pledges 'entitlement reform' next year | Dems push for more money to fight opioids Study: ObamaCare bills backed by Collins would lower premiums Right scrambles GOP budget strategy MORE (R-Maine), would end the exemption by authorizing the president to bring independent agencies into the same review system that governs other regulators.

“Independent agencies exercise vast power over major sectors of our economy — from telecom, to agriculture, to financial services — but they are exempt from commonsense requirements including cost-benefit analysis of major regulations to ensure they do more good than harm,” Portman said.

The proposed measure is in line with a recommendation of the President’s Jobs Council, the lawmakers noted.

“Congress should require [independent agencies] to conduct cost-benefit analysis for economically significant regulations,” the council concluded in a 2012 report.

However, public interest groups say independent agencies operate outside the executive branch system for good reason.

“Regulations that protect consumers from accidental death or injury, that protect consumers from predatory banks and financial firms, and that protect investors from fraud or manipulation should not be jammed into the same bottleneck that has blocked worker safety regulations and key environmental regulations,” said Ross Eisenbrey, vice president of the Economic Policy Institute.

“This will benefit only those corporations that, in their own selfish interest, want to delay or escape sensible rules and safeguards.”