U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) joined Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Mark Pryor (D-AR) to renew their bipartisan push to significantly reform the federal regulatory process and reduce unnecessary burdens on job creators. The "Regulatory Accountability Act of 2013" reforms the current rulemaking process to lower costs and improve the quality of new regulations.
This bipartisan, bicameral effort is the first of its kind in more than a decade to reform and minimize regulations that stifle economic growth.
"As a small businessman for many years, I know that we must remove unnecessary rules and regulations to spur economic growth and a thriving job market," Senator Manchin said. "We need government to work smarter, and federal agencies to operate with complete transparency and maximum efficiency. This commonsense legislation will provide a thoughtful balance between beneficial federal regulations and prospering private businesses. We're not asking government to be our provider; we want government to be our partner."
The United States government issues more than 3,000 new, costly rules and regulations every year. "The Regulatory Accountability Act" seeks to modernize the "Administrative Procedure Act" by strengthening cost-benefit analysis across all agencies, improving transparency in the rulemaking process, and providing a more rigorous examination of facts underlying the most expensive rules.
First, the bill would codify the duty to analyze the costs and benefits of new regulations. It would also require agencies to adopt the least costly or most cost-effective approach to achieve their objectives. To hold agencies accountable, the bill would permit a judicial check on an agency's cost-benefits analysis of major rules -- the 40 to 80 costliest regulations out of the more than 3,000 issued annually. This review would be deferential, but the courts would ensure that agencies do not rely on irrational assumptions or treat cost-benefit analysis as a mere afterthought -- which happens too often today.
Second, the bill opens the regulatory process to greater transparency. It invites early public participation on major rules and requires agencies to disclose the data they use for their analysis. It also would ensure that agencies use sound scientific and technical data to justify new rules, in keeping with the President's directive that agencies use the "best available science" to craft regulations.
Third, the bill would require agencies to follow a more evidence-based approach in crafting rules that will cost more than $1 billion annually. These high-impact rules are relatively rare -- the White House identified seven in development last year -- but the cost of getting them wrong is steep. That's why this legislation would give stakeholders access to an agency hearing to test the key disputed facts underlying these mega-rules. It will take some additional work on the front end, but the result will be lower costs and more stable regulatory outcomes.
U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Angus King (I-ME), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Mike Johanns (R-NE), and John Cornyn (R-TX) are also original cosponsors of the bill.
Companion legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law Subcommittee Chairman Spencer Bachus (R-AL) and Representative Colin Peterson (D-MN), along with Representatives Lamar Smith (R-TX), William Owens (D-NY), Howard Coble (R-NC), and Kurt Schrader (D-OR).