ACA and a host of other organizations joined the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in signing letters, dated June 6, to members of the U.S. House and Senate Judiciary Committees, urging passage of the Regulatory Accountability Act of 2013. Introduced on May 23, H.R. 2122, and its companion bill, S. 1029, would modernize the 66-year-old Administrative Procedure Act to improve the process by which federal agencies promulgate regulations for better accountability and the integrity of rulemaking activity.
Of note, the Regulatory Accountability Act, passed the House of Representatives in 2011, but stalled in the Senate.
The Regulatory Accountability Act requires federal agencies to choose the lowest-cost rulemaking alternative that meets statutory objectives; improves agency fact-gathering, fact-finding, and identification of regulatory alternatives; requires advance notice of proposed major rulemakings to increase public input before costly agency positions are proposed; and fortifies judicial review of new agency regulations. Additionally, the legislation proffers a new definition for a “major rule,” which would include any rule expected to cost the economy $100 million, impose “a major increase in costs or prices” for consumers or industries, or bring on “significant adverse effects” for competition, employment, investment, productivity, or U.S. companies' ability to compete with foreign players.
In its letter to members of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, ACA wrote: “Our regulatory process has not been updated in more than six decades, and as a result we are seeing a rising number of massive, costly rules that breed uncertainty, drive up costs, and stifle hiring and investment…Small and large businesses alike consistently cite growing regulatory burdens and the uncertainty that occurs when badly-written regulations must be corrected through years of litigation as the most significant obstacles to new hiring.”
“This bill would address these serious issues in a reasonable, measured way. The legislation would not prevent federal agencies from issuing regulations or accomplishing their objectives. Rather, the legislation would ensure that federal regulators base their regulatory decisions on solid information, ensure that the regulatory process is more transparent, and hold agencies more accountable to the public.”
Bill sponsor and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), said that “if we are to grow our economy and get more Americans back to work, Washington must get out of the way. The Regulatory Accountability Act solves the problem of overreaching and unnecessary regulation by providing greater transparency, cost-benefit analysis of new rules, and a more thorough process for high-impact rules.”
The House bill was also sponsored by Howard Coble (R-N.C.), Lamar Smith (R-Texas), William Owens (D-N.Y.), and Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.). The Senate companion bill was sponsored by Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), Rob Portman, (R-Ohio), John Cornyn (R-Texas), and Angus King (I-Maine).