Bill aims to stop sue-and-settle regulation

Judiciary Committee members in the House and Senate want to put a stop to pro-regulatory special interest groups pushing federal agencies to adopt rules through sue-and-settle litigation.

Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) and Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyThe peculiar priorities of Adam Schiff Advocates frustrated over pace of drug price reform Trump drug pricing setbacks put pressure on Congress MORE (R-Iowa) have introduced the Sunshine for Regulatory Decrees and Settlements Act of 2015 to keep burdensome regulations that hurt businesses and communities off the rulebooks.

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Pro-regulatory special interest groups, they say, use sue-and-settle litigation as a tactic to force federal agencies to negotiate behind closed doors and ultimately settle disputes through regulation.  

“These tactics result in new federal regulations imposed on American businesses and ultimately, on American families, all without an adequate opportunity for the public to weigh in,” Grassley said in a statement. “This bill helps restore regulatory accountability by allowing for public scrutiny and comment on proposed federal regulations, and by making it easier for affected parties to take part in settlement negotiations.”

The bill prohibits the same-day filing of complaints, pre-negotiated consent decrees and settlement agreements in cases seeking to compel agency action. It also requires consent decrees and settlement agreements to be filed only after interested parties have had the opportunity to intervene in the litigation and join settlement negotiations, and only after proposed consent decree or settlements have been published for at least 60 days to give the public time to comment.

It also requires courts considering approval of consent decrees and settlement agreements to account for public comments and comply with regulatory process statutes and executive orders.

“This administration’s rush to settle with litigious outside groups is costing us jobs and income,” Collins said in a statement. “We’re giving more people a voice in the outcome.”