House Republicans demand to see regulatory agenda

Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, was part of a group that said they were not satisfied with the “vague” answers to an earlier inquiry from the OMB. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, was part of a group that said they were not satisfied with the “vague” answers to an earlier inquiry from the OMB. Charles Dharapak/AP

Less than two weeks before the elections, four House committee chairmen are pressing the Obama administration to produce overdue documents detailing the release dates and costs of upcoming regulatory proposals.

In an Oct. 25 letter to Boris Bershteyn, acting administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, the lawmakers said, “This administration has failed to live up to its own transparency standards by failing to release basic regulatory documents which provide transparency about agencies’ plans to regulate and allow the public to assess the regulatory state.”

Reps. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, chairman of the Judiciary Committee; Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee; and regulatory subcommittee chairmen Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Howard Coble, R-N.C., said they were not satisfied with the “vague” answers to an earlier inquiry from the Office of Management and Budget concerning delivery of the mandatory Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions. It is based on data from agencies that were originally due April 13 and is typically released by early summer. The letter also demands a separate benefits and costs report.

“This lack of transparency raises questions about the motives behind the administration’s apparent reluctance to inform Congress and the public about its regulatory plans,” the letter stated. “Due to the impending election, it does raise concerns that the administration is holding back this information for fear it will be met with dissatisfaction by the public, or even worse, perceived as breaking the administration’s promise of regulatory reform.” The lawmakers have asked for a briefing from the regulatory affairs office by Nov. 2 to discuss the prospects of “midnight rule-making” at the end of the administration’s term.

An OMB spokeswoman told Government Executive that agencies are compiling the latest available information and the updated agenda is in progress.

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