Obama waves veto pen at GOP regulations bill

The White House is threatening to veto legislation designed to curb some of the Obama administration’s most costly regulations.

The House is expected to vote as early as Tuesday on the Regulatory Accountability Act of 2015. 

While the legislation is expected to easily pass, the White House warned the bill would “undermine” federal regulators with “unnecessary procedural steps that seem designed simply to impede the regulatory development process.” 

“The Regulatory Accountability Act would impose unprecedented and unnecessary procedural requirements on agencies that would prevent them from efficiently performing their statutory responsibilities,” the White House said late Monday in a policy statement. “It would also create needless regulatory and legal uncertainty and further impede the implementation of protections for the American public.”

The Regulatory Accountability Act of 2015, reintroduced last week by Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), failed to gain traction in the last Congress but stands a better chance this time around with Republicans in control of both chambers.

“Today, Americans face a burden of over $3 trillion from federal taxation and regulation,” Goodlatte said when he introduced the bill.

“In fact, our federal regulatory burden is larger than the 2013 Gross Domestic Product of all but the top ten countries in the world and most importantly, that burden adds up to $15,000 per American household, nearly thirty percent of average household income in 2013,” he added.

The House Rules Committee will take up the Regulatory Accountability Act on Monday evening and is likely to send the bill to the floor for a vote as early as Tuesday.

The legislation would help Republicans and business groups fight back against expensive Obama administration rules that they argue are not “economically justified.”

Federal agencies would be required to consider a proposed rule’s impact on jobs and the economy while searching for less expensive alternatives.

They would then be compelled to move forward with the “least costly rule considered during the rule making.”

But the White House said the legislation would actually increase costs.

“This bill would make the regulatory process more expensive, less flexible, and more burdensome — dramatically increasing the cost of regulation for the American taxpayer and working class families,” the White House wrote.

The Regulatory Accountability Act would also limit the guidance and interim final rules federal agencies can issue, and require them to be more open about the data they use to justify regulations.

Federal agencies would be required to hold public hearings for the most expensive rules, something many agencies already do. The regulations could also be challenged in court before they are finalized.

Republicans say those steps would lead to more moderate regulations, but opponents of the bill argue it would water down the rule making process and “sabotage” public protections.

Katie Weatherford, a regulatory policy analyst at the left-leaning Center for Effective Government, said the legislation is “nothing more than a backdoor effort to undermine public protections.”

“The Regulatory Accountability Act would add numerous hurdles and delays to agency efforts to develop new safeguards and give big business even more opportunities to interfere in this process,” she wrote.

House lawmakers passed the Regulatory Accountability Act in 2013 and again in 2014, but it was ultimately rejected by what was then a Democratic-controlled Senate.

With Republicans now in control of both chambers, Congress is expected to pass the legislation and be vetoed by Obama.

Republicans could try to force Obama’s hand on the bill by attaching it to a more important piece of legislation or an appropriations bill.

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