GOP bill targets agencies' regulatory powers

GOP bill targets agencies' regulatory powers
© Greg Nash

Senate Republicans unveiled legislation Thursday to crack down on regulatory overreach.

The Separation of Powers Restoration Act would clarify the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) to state that courts, not agencies, are to interpret all questions of law, including both statutes and regulations.

The bill was introduced by Sens. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchLobbying world Congress, stop holding 'Dreamers' hostage Drug prices are declining amid inflation fears MORE (Utah) and Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyFill the Eastern District of Virginia  On The Money — Progressives play hard ball on Biden budget plan Hillicon Valley — Presented by LookingGlass — Congress makes technology policy moves MORE (Iowa) along with Sens. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeRetreating economy creates new hurdle for Democrats in 2022 McConnell vows GOP won't help raise debt ceiling in December after Schumer 'tantrum' Senate locks in deal to vote on debt ceiling hike Thursday MORE (Utah), James Lankford (Okla.), Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeFlake donating unused campaign funds to Arizona nonprofit focused on elections: report Biden nominates former Sen. Tom Udall as New Zealand ambassador Biden to nominate Jane Hartley as UK ambassador: report MORE (Ariz.), James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by AM General — Senators slam Pentagon officials Generals contradict Biden, say they advised leaving troops in Afghanistan LIVE COVERAGE: Senators press military leaders on Afghanistan MORE (Okla.), Thom Tillis (N.C.), presidential candidate Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOcasio-Cortez goes indoor skydiving for her birthday GOP rallies around Manchin, Sinema McConnell gets GOP wake-up call MORE (Texas), John CornynJohn CornynCornyn raises more than M for Senate GOP Is the Biden administration afraid of trade? The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - After high drama, Senate lifts debt limit MORE (Texas), Ben Sasse (Neb.) and Dan Sullivan (Alaska), all Republicans.

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The lawmakers say federal agencies have continued to accumulate more power since the Supreme Court's 1984 ruling in Chevron U.S.A. Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council Inc. That case, creating the Chevron doctrine, said that courts should defer to an agency’s interpretation of a statute as long as the statute is “ambiguous” and the agency’s reading is “reasonable.”

Lawmakers say that deference allows agencies to rewrite laws and issue regulations as they see fit.

Grassley said the practice has weakened the nation’s system of checks and balances in remarks at a Heritage Foundation event to discuss the Chevron doctrine on Thursday.

“Congress delegates too much power in the first place to regulators as you know, but this undermines accountability,” he said. “It’s not the way our founders intended our government to work under the principle of checks and balances.”

He later added that the, “consequences of regulatory overreach are felt by the people who foot the bill for all this: the American people.” 

The bill is part of Lee’s Article I project, an initiative he's launched with lawmakers in both chambers to reassert Congress’s powers under Article I of the Constitution.

Article I, he explained, says “all legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress.”

“It’s time to turn back to the text of the Constitution on which we swore oath to uphold,” Lee added.