Senate Republicans take aim at regulatory reform

Senate Republicans began weeding through “layer upon layer upon layer” of federal rules Wednesday during a regulatory reform hearing.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee examined ways in which the federal government could reduce the regulatory burdens on businesses by removing unnecessary and duplicate rules.

“When I look around this country, I see the layer upon layer upon layer of federal regulations as a threat to America’s economic security,” Chairman Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonGOP senators divided over approach to election security Democrats make U-turn on calling border a 'manufactured crisis' GOP frets about Trump's poll numbers MORE (R-Wis.) said at the hearing.

Regulatory reform is a popular issue for both parties.

Republicans and Democrats, who generally disagree on major regulations, are seeking a bipartisan approach that would remove unnecessary and duplicate rules that often fly under the radar.

But common ground may be tough to find for two parties that often find themselves as much at odds over regulations as any other issue.

The lawmakers reviewed three Republican-backed pieces of legislation that propose to do just that — the Smarter Regs Act, Principled Rulemaking Act, and Early Participation in Regulations Act

Sen. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampLobbying World Pro-trade group targets Democratic leadership in push for new NAFTA On The Money: Stocks sink on Trump tariff threat | GOP caught off guard by new trade turmoil | Federal deficit grew 38 percent this fiscal year | Banks avoid taking position in Trump, Dem subpoena fight MORE (D-N.D.) also sponsored the three bills, even though some of her Democrat colleagues remain skeptical.

“These are not aimed at any one regulation or agency,” Johnson said. “Rather, these are reforms of the rulemaking system.”

“These bills acknowledge that the root of the problem isn’t any one regulatory agency, but a process that often lacks accountability and a connection to real-world impacts,” he added.

But the top Democrat on the committee, Sen. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperThe '90-10 rule' in higher education is a target on veterans' backs Trump proposal nixes review of long-term climate impacts Democrats want White House hopefuls to cool it on Biden attacks MORE (D-Del.), expressed “serious concerns” with the proposed legislation.

“I worry that many of these proposals focus too much on the costs of the regulations, while ignoring the benefits,” Carper said at the hearing. “Many of the proposals also would add additional hurdles to the regulatory process that would make it even more complicated and lead to significant regulatory delays."