House Judiciary Committee passes bill on rule-making reform

The House Judiciary Committee voted Tuesday to move forward a bill that will force federal agencies to calculate the indirect, in addition to the direct costs of proposed rules.

In urging his colleagues to move the bill forward, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteBottom line No documents? Hoping for legalization? Be wary of Joe Biden Press: Trump's final presidential pardon: himself MORE (R-Va.) said the Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act, which passed by a 19-8 vote, is a timely and logical step in protecting small businesses from over regulation.


But Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) said the bill would paralyze the federal rule-making process.

“This deceptively named legislation does not protect small businesses or individuals from government overreach,” he said. “To the contrary, this legislation protects large corporations from government regulations that protect people and small business from predatory corporate practices, which eliminate competition and put people’s health and safety at risk.”

The bill has passed in the last two consecutive sessions in the House, but failed to move in the Democratic-led Senate. Advocates of the bill are hoping it will be different this time around with Republicans in control. 

“To my colleagues who oppose the bill, let me remind you that nothing in the bill will prevent an agency from issuing a rule,” said Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio).

The bill now moves to the House floor for a vote. If passed in both chambers, federal agencies will be forced to hold a small business advocacy review panel when a rule impacts a large number of small businesses, but opponents of this rule say those panels are often stacked with big business representatives.

Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) said the bill gives big corporations the ability to overtly sway the rule making process.  

“It overwhelms regulatory agencies with unnecessary and costly analysis, and gives well-financed businesses and anti-regulatory organizations even more opportunities to thwart the rule making process,” he said.

Conyers wanted to amend the bill to allow agencies to bypass the cost analysis in adopting a rule in the event of a natural disaster or national emergency. 

But his amendment, along with one from Johnson, which made an exemption for all rules that would result in net job creation, failed to pass in committee.