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 HatchTrump to award Medal of Freedom to economist Arthur Laffer Trump gambles in push for drug import proposal Biden's role in Anita Hill hearings defended by witness not allowed to testify MORE (Utah) and Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyOvernight Defense: Pompeo blames Iran for oil tanker attacks | House panel approves 3B defense bill | Trump shares designs for red, white and blue Air Force One On The Money: Pelosi says no debt ceiling hike until deal on spending caps | McConnell pressures White House to strike budget deal | Warren bill would wipe out billions in student debt | Senate passes IRS reform bill On The Money: Pelosi says no debt ceiling hike until deal on spending caps | McConnell pressures White House to strike budget deal | Warren bill would wipe out billions in student debt | Senate passes IRS reform bill MORE (Iowa) along with Sens. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeOvernight Defense: Latest on House defense bill markup | Air Force One, low-yield nukes spark debate | House Dems introduce resolutions blocking Saudi arms sales | Trump to send 1,000 troops to Poland Overnight Defense: Latest on House defense bill markup | Air Force One, low-yield nukes spark debate | House Dems introduce resolutions blocking Saudi arms sales | Trump to send 1,000 troops to Poland Senators clinch votes to rebuke Trump on Saudi arms sale MORE (Utah), James Lankford (Okla.), Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeDemocrats needle GOP on standing up to Trump Democrats needle GOP on standing up to Trump Amash gets standing ovation at first town hall after calling for Trump's impeachment MORE (Ariz.), James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeSenate rejects effort to block Trump's Qatar, Bahrain arms sales Senate rejects effort to block Trump's Qatar, Bahrain arms sales Shanahan: 'No concerns' about FBI background check for nomination MORE (Okla.), Thom Tillis (N.C.), presidential candidate Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzCruz, Ocasio-Cortez efforts on birth control access face major obstacles Ocasio-Cortez and Cruz's dialogue shows common ground isn't just for moderates Ted Cruz, AOC have it right on banning former members of Congress from becoming lobbyists MORE (Texas), John CornynJohn CornynTrump puts GOP in tough spot with remarks on foreign 'dirt' Trump puts GOP in tough spot with remarks on foreign 'dirt' Overnight Health Care: Pelosi to change drug-pricing plan after complaints | 2020 Democrats to attend Planned Parenthood abortion forum | House holds first major 'Medicare for All' hearing 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.