The Administration

Time to restore transparency and accountability in rulemaking

The federal lawmaking process should be simple: the legislative branch writes the laws, and the executive branch enforces them. Unfortunately, under both Republican and Democratic administrations, our lawmaking process has strayed away from the vision that was set by our founding fathers in the Constitution.  

The growing role of executive agencies in the federal government has given way to a complicated, and at times, unruly legislative process. There have been clear instances over the past several years when an executive agency’s proposed rule has basic, logistical flaws, or goes well beyond the intent Congress laid out in the authorizing law.  

{mosads}Executive agencies have grown so big and powerful that Congressional oversight has not been an effective tool for preventing flawed, overreaching rules from moving forward. Instead, we are seeing costly legal battles waged over these rules in the federal court system.  

These rules are hurting America. They are hurting our families and our communities. It is time to restore transparency and accountability in federal rulemaking.  

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has already made it clear that he is committed to restoring the separation of powers and reducing regulatory burdens. Under the Speaker’s leadership, two committee-led task forces will work to make sure Congress is the only body writing laws and executive agencies are held accountable when they act outside of their authority. I applaud the strong stand he is taking for American families and businesses. 

I also applaud Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) for his fight against executive overreach in the House Judiciary Committee. The chairman has brought together a bipartisan group of lawmakers who will take a hard look at the rise of presidential power and executive overreach. I am encouraged by the commitment these lawmakers have shown to reinforcing the checks and balances that guide our democracy. 

The House has already started its work to get our federal government back on track. Passing the Preventing Overreach Within the Executive Rulemaking System (POWERS) Act (H.R. 4636) would be a strong next step. 

Under current law, there is nothing that requires federal agencies to respond to questions or concerns raised by Congress during the rulemaking process. Although an agency will traditionally set a public comment period in order to gather feedback from anyone who may be impacted by a proposed rulemaking, the agency is not required to acknowledge or respond to these comments until the comment period is closed and the final rule is published.  

Congress gives agencies the authority to write rules, so agencies need to be held accountable to Congress throughout the entire process. The POWERS Act restores accountability by requiring federal agencies to respond to Congressional inquiries it receives during an open public comment period. 

Under the POWERS Act, the U.S. House and Senate committees that have jurisdiction over a proposed rule may send a formal Congressional inquiry to the head of the promulgating agency. Once the agency receives the inquiry, the public comment period will be put on hold until the agency publishes its response to the inquiry in the federal register. A valid response must address the specific content and answer all questions included in the Congressional inquiry.  

It is time to restore the foundation set by the writers of our Constitution. This document is clear. It says: all legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.  

Our executive branch has grown to be too big, but it is not too late to hit reset. We must make changes to the rulemaking process to hold executive agencies accountable and empower our families, communities, and businesses. With these changes, we can restore a prosperous and confident America.

Mullin has represented Oklahoma’s 2nd Congressional District since 2013. He sits on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Tags Bob Goodlatte Paul Ryan

The Hill has removed its comment section, as there are many other forums for readers to participate in the conversation. We invite you to join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter.

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video