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 HatchSenate GOP divided over whether they'd fill Supreme Court vacancy  Five takeaways as panel grills tech CEOs Trump awards medal of freedom to former congressman, Olympian Jim Ryun MORE (Utah) and Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyMcConnell goes hands-off on coronavirus relief bill GOP chairmen hit back at accusation they are spreading disinformation with Biden probe On The Money: Unemployment debate sparks GOP divisions | Pandemic reveals flaws of unemployment insurance programs | Survey finds nearly one-third of rehired workers laid off again MORE (Iowa) along with Sens. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeOvernight Defense: Air Force general officially becomes first African American service chief | Senators introduce bill to block Trump armed drone sale measure | State Department's special envoy for Iran is departing the Trump administration Senators introduce bill to block Trump armed drone sale measure Trump signs major conservation bill into law MORE (Utah), James Lankford (Okla.), Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeCheney clashes with Trump Sessions-Tuberville Senate runoff heats up in Alabama GOP lawmakers stick to Trump amid new criticism MORE (Ariz.), James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeSenate GOP divided over whether they'd fill Supreme Court vacancy  Controversial Trump nominee placed in senior role after nomination hearing canceled Chamber of Commerce endorses Ernst for reelection MORE (Okla.), Thom Tillis (N.C.), presidential candidate Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the Air Line Pilots Association - Negotiators 'far apart' as talks yield little ahead of deadline Wary GOP eyes Meadows shift from brick-thrower to dealmaker Trump-backed Hagerty wins Tennessee GOP Senate primary MORE (Texas), John CornynJohn CornynCOVID-19 bill limiting liability would strike the wrong balance From a Republican donor to Senate GOP: Remove marriage penalty or risk alienating voters Skepticism grows over Friday deadline for coronavirus deal 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.