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.
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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.