House Votes for Independent Study of New Regulations

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House Republicans on Friday topped off their “Stop Government Abuse Week” by passing a years-in-the-works bill to require newly proposed federal regulations to be independently analyzed by entities such as the Congressional Budget Office to gauge their burden on businesses and state and local governments.

The Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act (H.R. 899), which passed the House 234 to 176, drew a veto threat from the Office of Management and Budget, and is opposed by many in the environmental and workplace safety nonprofit community.

The bill’s prospects in the Senate are uncertain, like other bills the House approved this week calling for greater transparency and extra scrutiny of agency spending and rules.

“At the very least policymakers and unelected regulators should know the price of what they dictate,” said the bill’s chief sponsor Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., in a statement. The act “will help restore honesty and transparency to federal mandates and ensure Washington bureaucrats are held accountable for seeking public input and considering the negative consequences, in dollars and in jobs, prospective mandates will impose on the economy.”

Rep. James Lankford, R-Okla., said during floor debate, “This bill assumes one thing -- that regulators are human and not infallible. Whenever someone in Washington has a good idea, someone has to pay for it. This says they have to have consultation with the people affected.”

Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Fla., who opposed the bill, said, “Just as it is absurd to say all regulations are good, it is equally absurd to say all regulations are bad, as this bill does.”

The White House said the bill “would introduce needless uncertainty into agency decision-making and undermine the ability of agencies to provide critical public health and safety protections,” warning that it would “create needless grounds for judicial review” and slow down decision-making by adding “to the already robust analytical and procedural requirements of the rulemaking process.”

The liberal-leaning Public Citizen and an allied group of advocates called the Coalition for Sensible Safeguards wrote to lawmakers saying the Foxx bill and other legislation the House passed during “Stop Government Abuse Week” would “undermine our nation’s ability to set health, safety and environmental standards as well as new financial protections. Given that we have experienced multiple health and safety disasters in communities and workplaces across the country in recent years, it is the wrong time to thwart the progress of necessary public protections.”  

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