House Republicans Take a Big Swing at Regulations
But the likelihood of home runs isn’t high due to the Democrats controlling the Senate and the White House.
Since the new Congress began, House Republicans, who are now in the majority, have wasted no time introducing legislation to cut back on federal regulations and give Congress more power in the rule-making process.
Some of these bills have been introduced before and many reiterate common gripes from Republicans about the regulatory process. But in order for any reforms to happen, they would need buy-in from Democrats who still control the Senate and White House, with President Biden using the regulatory process to advance his policy goals.
One bill, which has over 170 Republican signatories, would amend the 1996 Congressional Review Act to not only allow Congress to issue resolutions seeking to nullify federal regulations, but also to require every new “major rule” federal agencies propose to be approved by the House and Senate before taking effect. The bill defines “major rules” as any federal rule or regulation that could have a $100 million or more annual effect on the economy; result in a major increase in prices or costs for consumers, industries, government agencies or geographic areas; or lead to significantly adverse effects on competition, employment, innovation or productivity.
“The [Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny] Act is a core part of House Republicans' mission to reintroduce government accountability and to restore Congress' role to check the regulatory actions of federal agencies,” said Rep. Kat Cammack, R-Fla., who introduced the bill. “During the first year of this administration, the Biden White House added more than $200 billion in new regulatory costs,” which “cost the American taxpayers over $2 trillion per year in compliance costs and economic losses without the proper oversight from the legislative branch.”
Other proposed bills would:
- Eliminate the Chevron deference, an administrative law principle derived from a 1984 Supreme Court ruling that says federal courts should defer to federal agencies when a statute is unclear or ambiguous that Congress gave them the power to administer;
- Require a regulatory budget outlining regulatory costs that is similar to the annual budget for government spending;
- Require a detailed, monthly update from the executive agencies on rules they’re working on;
- Instruct federal regulators to review the full economic impact of proposed regulations on small businesses and consider alternatives being issuing them;
- Abolish the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a large regulatory agency within the Labor Department; and,
- Prevent any rule or guidance to ban gas stoves after there was intense backlash over false interpretations that the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission was looking to ban them.
Also in the realm of administrative law, Rep. Tracey Mann, R-Kan., reintroduced a series of legislation that would increase transparency and accountability of future executive orders.
Specifically, this would “require the executive branch to notify the American public and Congress with its intent to issue any new, or revoke any existing, executive orders in six key areas: agriculture, energy, natural resources, the right to life, the Second Amendment, and immigration,” Mann said in a press release. “They also require the executive branch to substantiate and explain the Constitutional legitimacy of each executive order and report back to Congress on its impact on America.”
This comes as the Supreme Court issued a decision over the summer that severely restricted the Environmental Protection Agency’s powers to regulate greenhouse gasses and fight climate change and established the “major questions doctrine,” which set the precedent that federal agencies could have little flexibility to create new regulations with major economic or political significance that rely on authorities not clearly laid out in law.
OIRA declined to comment on the Republicans’ bills.