Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., center, speaks to a reporter before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee meets on Capitol Hill on May 20.

Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., center, speaks to a reporter before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee meets on Capitol Hill on May 20. Andrew Harnik/AP

Senate Republicans Introduce Legislation to Rid ‘Burdensome’ Regulations

The bill aligns with the Trump administration’s deregulatory agenda.

A group of Senate Republicans introduced legislation on Wednesday that would create an annual process to eliminate regulations deemed duplicative, burdensome or outdated. 

Sens. Rick Scott, Fla; Tom Cotton, Ark.; Steve Daines, Mont.; Mike Enzi, Wyo.; Josh Hawley, Mo.; Kelly Loeffler, Ga.; David Perdue, Ga.; and Thom Tillis, N.C. introduced the “Unnecessary Agency Regulations Reduction Act.” The legislation aligns with the Trump administration’s deregulatory initiative, which the administration has expanded to help the economy recover from the recession created by the coronavirus pandemic. 

“Throughout my time as governor of Florida, we cut more than 5,200 burdensome regulations to get [the] government out of the way so businesses could succeed. Our focus on reducing taxes and cutting regulations meant more than 1.7 million new jobs were created in our state,” said Scott, who is leading the legislation. “The [bill] helps bring Florida’s success to Washington by creating more efficiency in the federal government. We have to do everything we can to protect taxpayer dollars and rein in wasteful spending, and eliminating unnecessary regulations is an easy way to do that.”

If enacted, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs––a division of the White House Office of Management and Budget––would be required to submit to Congress annually a list of unnecessary regulations. OIRA would compile the list in consultation with agencies and the Government Accountability Office’s annual report on cost saving opportunities. The list “shall be not less than 10% of all major rules and sets of major rules.” 

Congress would then have 30 days to review the list and suggest modifications. Within 60 days of that, the House and Senate would introduce a joint resolution (eligible for expedited consideration) to address the recommendations.

Many government watchdog groups have long been critical of the administration's aggressive war on regulations and they have grown increasingly worried about regulatory rollbacks during the pandemic because of the potential public health and environmental consequences.  

Shortly after taking office in 2017, President Trump issued an executive order that required the repeal of two regulations for every new one issued. OIRA reported that in 2019, the government eliminated nearly $14 billion in regulatory costs and issued 150 deregulatory actions. Since 2017, agencies’ deregulatory actions eliminated $51 billion in costs governmentwide; OIRA projects that total will be $52 billion by the end of fiscal 2020. 

On June 9, OMB asked all agencies for their plans on how they will carry out the president’s executive order to waive or modify any regulations that could impede economic recovery from the recession. OMB set a two-week deadline for the plans; it has not responded to Government Executive on whether or not agencies did so.