Senators push for regulatory cost-benefit reviews

A group of senators, led by Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Fred Thompson, R-Tenn., last week introduced legislation that would require the government to report on the costs and benefits of federal regulatory programs to the public.

Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., and Sen. John Breaux, D-La., joined Thompson in introducing the Regulatory Right-to-Know Act of 1999. Last year, Thompson introduced the key provisions of a similar bill as an amendment to the omnibus 1999 appropriations bill, which passed in October.

It required the Office of Management and Budget to provide Congress with a report on the total annual benefits and costs of federal regulatory programs. The provision that passed only made the report a one-time requirement, for the Year 2000.

This session's legislation would require the federal government to provide reports on the benefits and costs of federal regulatory programs each year. It also would require OMB to analyze the impact of federal rules on small businesses, the private sector, government, wages and economic growth.

"This bill will hold federal regulators accountable and reduce needless waste and red tape," Thompson said. "It will help us find ways to better protect public health, safety and the environment and to ensure a stable economy."

Thompson said federal regulation costs about $700 billion a year, or $7,000 per American household.

"Every American has a right to know what their government is doing," Breaux said. "The goal of our bill is simple-to give Americans and Congress more information about what and how our government is regulating."

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