Ryan backs bill to ‘curb agency overreach’

Moriah Ratner

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is throwing his support behind a bill that aims to rein in regulatory overreach.

The Separation of Powers Restoration Act — which is expected to get a vote on the floor this week — would overturn the 1984 Supreme Court decision that created the “Chevron deference.”

{mosads}The administrative law principle says courts should defer to an agency’s interpretation when there are disputes about “ambiguous” laws unless that interpretation is unreasonable.

In a release on Monday, Ryan said the Chevron deference has awarded too much power to the agencies, essentially creating a fourth branch of government.

“This deference empowers nameless, faceless, unaccountable bureaucrats to re-write laws and attach meaning that was never Congress’s intent,” Ryan said. “With this legislation, we are clamping down on this practice—and taking a first step toward restoring power to Congress and, more importantly, to the voters who send us here.”

The legislation would amend the Administrative Procedure Act to require courts to conduct a new review of all relevant questions of law instead of relying on agency interpretations.

Pro-regulatory groups are urging lawmakers to vote against the bill.

If passed, the Coalition for Sensible Safeguards said the legislation would allow non-expert judges to second-guess complex policy determinations made by expert agencies.

“This bill rings a dinner bell for judicial policymaking, which is why it’s shocking to see lawmakers who call themselves strict constructionists lining up behind it,” Robert Weissman, the coalition chair and president of Public Citizen, said in a statement. “H.R. 4768 invites judges to dispense with both congressional intent and agency expertise and substitute their personal policy preferences.”

Eliminating Chevron deference, the group argued, would further rig the rulemaking process in favor of powerful corporations, give judges more power and further delay a regulatory process that is already slow to protect the public.

In a statement last month, the administration said the legislation would unnecessarily overrule decades of Supreme Court precedent and that advisers to Obama would recommend he veto it.


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