Obama Threatens Veto of GOP’s First Attempt to Rein in ‘Bureaucrats’

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has pledged “a lot of restrictions on the activities of the bureaucracy.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has pledged “a lot of restrictions on the activities of the bureaucracy.” Susan Walsh/Associated Press

Before the midterm elections in November, then-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., was asked what he would prioritize if Republicans won control of both chambers of Congress. McConnell said there were going to be “a lot of restrictions on the activities of the bureaucracy.”

“That’s something [President Obama] won’t like, but that will be done,” McConnell said. “I guarantee it.”

Republicans did take control of the Senate and padded their majority in the House, and McConnell’s party is making good on his promise. The House on Tuesday approved by a 250-175 vote the Regulatory Accountability Act, which would require federal agencies to, when writing up rules, choose the least costly means to implement new laws.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., would require agencies to issue notices of proposed rulemaking for major regulations, and determine potential job losses and wage impacts resulting from new rules. Goodlatte and Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said the legislation would prevent “federal bureaucrats” from negatively impacting local communities.

McConnell also correctly predicted Obama would not like the new attempts to restrict bureaucratic activities. The president said if the regulatory reform bill reached his desk, he would veto it.

In a statement of administration policy, the White House said it “strongly opposes” the bill, arguing it would actually increase red tape in the regulatory process.

“The Regulatory Accountability Act would impose unprecedented and unnecessary procedural requirements on agencies that would prevent them from efficiently performing their statutory responsibilities,” the statement said. “This bill would make the regulatory process more expensive, less flexible, and more burdensome -- dramatically increasing the cost of regulation for the American taxpayer and working class families.”

The Obama administration added the procedures in place already guarantee thorough research to ensure agencies implement laws efficiently and practically.  The current rulemaking process requires judicial review to certify compliance with those procedures, as well as input from relevant stakeholders, the White House said.

The regulatory reform bill now heads to the Senate, where it will be up to McConnell to try to shepherd its passage.

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