By Tim Devaney
A group of House Republicans are sharply questioning a lengthy delay by the Obama administration this year in producing a mandatory report that details the government's regulatory agenda and what impact it will have on businesses and the economy.
"For some reason, they're just not telling us -- the American people, businesses, Congress -- what's on the agenda, what's coming up," said House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline of Minnesota, who was joined by three other GOP members who chair subcommittees of the panel. "It's very troubling."
The White House Office of Management and Budget is required by law to publish reports twice a year in April and October that detail the potential regulations that government agencies are considering. But the OMB has not yet published the April report and told Mr. Kline it was turning its attention instead to the October report, which the lawmaker said in an interview he expects also will be late.
The OMB did not respond to requests for comment from The Washington Times.
Mr. Kline, a Minnesota Republican, called this a "flagrant violation" of the law. The letter, also signed by GOP Reps. Virginia Foxx of Tennessee, Phil Roe of Tennessee and Tim Wahlberg of Michigan, calls the OMB's handling of the so-called Spring Report on regulations "unacceptable and unlawful."
"If they've got a regulation that's about to come out, we're supposed to know," Mr. Kline said. "We're not supposed to be surprised by this, so that everybody can see what's coming."
The lawmakers' letter was directed to Boris Bershteyn, acting director of the OMB's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, which prepares the regulatory report. The office's previous director, Cass Sunstein, left the office in August to return to academia.
Mr. Kline suggested election-year political considerations may be behind the delay.
"President Obama said this would be the most transparent government in history," he said. "Instead, we've got a repeated pattern of contempt for the law, bypassing the law."
What's even more frustrating, the chairman said, is that the lack of transparency on regulatory policies and costs has become a pattern, he said, noting clashes between Capitol Hill and the White House over information related to such controversies as the Justice Department's botched "Fast and Furious" gun-running program and the recent lethal attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
"It's very frustrating for all of us in Congress and for the American people that this administration has chosen to just disregard the law and, in many cases, the Constitution, and just do what it chooses to do," Mr. Kline said. "It's happening everywhere, we can't get answers on Fast and Furious, we can't get answers on Benghazi, we can't get answers anywhere."
Mr. Kline said Republicans will continue to pressure the administration to release the Spring Report, and he may hold a hearing on the issue after the election.