The Administration is committed to ensuring that regulations are smart and effective, that they are tailored to advance statutory goals in the most cost-effective and efficient manner, and that they minimize uncertainty. Accordingly, the Administration strongly opposes House passage of H.R. 3010, the Regulatory Accountability Act. The Regulatory Accountability Act would impose unprecedented procedural requirements on agencies that would prevent them from performing their statutory responsibilities. It would also create needless regulatory and legal uncertainty and increase costs for businesses, as well as state, tribal, and local governments, and further impede the implementation of commonsense protections for the American public.
The Regulatory Accountability Act would impose unnecessary new procedures on agencies and invite frivolous litigation. When a Federal agency promulgates a regulation, it must already adhere to the requirements of the statute that it is implementing. In many cases, the Congress has mandated that the agency issue the particular rule or regulation, and it often prescribes the process the agency must follow. Agencies must also adhere to the robust and well understood procedural requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act, and major rules are subject to the requirements of other Federal statutes such as the Regulatory Flexibility Act, the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act, and the Paperwork Reduction Act. In addition, for decades, agency rulemaking has been governed by Executive Orders issued and followed by administrations of both political parties. These require regulatory agencies to promulgate regulations only upon a reasoned determination that the benefits of the regulations justify the costs, to consider regulatory alternatives, and to promote regulatory flexibility. Lastly, final regulations are subject to review by the Federal courts to ensure that agencies satisfy the substantive and procedural requirements of all applicable statutes and consider input from the relevant stakeholders.
Passage of H.R. 3010 would replace this time-honored framework with layers of additional procedural requirements that would seriously undermine the ability of agencies to execute their statutory mandates. It would require cumbersome “formal” rulemaking for a new category of rules, for which agencies would have to conduct quasi-adjudicatory proceedings. It would impose unnecessary new evidentiary standards as a condition of rulemaking. It would subject the regulatory process to unneeded rounds of litigation. Finally, the Regulatory Accountability Act would undermine the Executive Branch’s ability to adapt regulatory review to changing circumstances.
In these ways and others, the Regulatory Accountability Act would impede the ability of agencies to provide the public with basic protections, and create needless confusion and delay that would prove disruptive for businesses, as well as for state, tribal and local governments.
If the President were presented with the Regulatory Accountability Act, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.
The RAA will undermine and cripple important consumer, environmental and other regulatory agencies. At a time when Americans need additional oversight of Big Businesses and Corporate misbehavior that crippled our economy, this proposal would bring to a halt any meaningful reform and stop agencies from issuing new rules. The bill's intent is clear: Corporations get a free pass and will not be subject to any oversight.
Delicia Reynolds, Legislative Director
National Association of Consumer Advocates
“Under either bill, the work of agency scientists would lose its power to push back against special interests who are more concerned about their bottom lines than our health and safety. Furthermore, when these special interests challenge rules in court, we will see judges with little or no scientific training forced to assess the value of one piece of research over another.”
Frances Grifo, senior scientist and director
Scientific Integrity Program Union of Concerned Scientists
“REINS would require congressional approval of every regulation with a major economic impact (defined as affecting more than $100 million in economic activity a year) — an absurdly impractical requirement, given the dozens of major rules adopted by regulatory agencies every year. It would delay product safety rules affecting family products like toys and cribs, complicate the FDA’s regulation of food and prescription drugs, and slow delivery of Social Security and Medicare, putting seniors at risk. It would also endanger the lives of workers employed in mines, factories and other places where standards reduce on-the-job hazards.
The Regulatory Accountability Act is in a way a kinder, gentler version of REINS — and therefore a more serious threat. Its devastating potential impact is buried in technical-sounding provisions — and it has bipartisan support. Introduced by Senators Rob Portman and Mark Pryor, it would subject agencies to nearly boundless inquiries into the cost of new regulations and give corporations numerous opportunities to delay rulemaking indefinitely. Few major rules would ever see the light of day.”
Robert Weissman, president Public Citizen
“U.S. PIRG views the Regulatory Accountability Act and the REINS ACT as direct assaults on the safety and well-being of American consumers, particularly our littlest consumers — children. The bills discard public health and safety considerations, tie regulators in knots and give manufacturers a free pass to continue to produce dangerous toys and other substandard products. The bills wrongly make the demands of powerful special interests more important than child safety.”
Nashima Hossain, public health advocate
US Public Interest Research Group
“Irresponsible deregulation of the financial industry — and the conduct it made possible — was a root cause of the financial crisis that has cost millions of jobs and trillions of dollars in home equity and retirement savings. The Regulatory Accountability Act would further stack the deck towards Wall Street special interests, make it impossible to put in place the commonsense rules we need to demand transparency and accountability in financial markets, and prevent the financial industry from repeating the extraordinarily reckless practices for which most of us are paying so high a price.
This legislation would create numerous bureaucratic and procedural roadblocks that would prevent any action by the agencies in charge of Wall Street oversight. Among other problems, it would permit big Wall Street firms to submit — and require full evaluation of — multiple versions of their own alternatives to regulatory action, creating a de facto industry veto of any rules to protect the public interest.
Three years after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, bonuses are sky high again on Wall Street, but most Americans are struggling. Support for this legislation is support for locking in the status quo that got us here. According to recent polling data, 77 percent of Americans favor tougher rules and enforcement for big Wall Street banks and the financial services industry. A large majority also favors the recently passed Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. This legislation is a backdoor attack on the ability of regulators to implement this or any new oversight, and it must be rejected.”
Lisa Donner, executive director
Americans for Financial Reform
“The Regulatory Accountability Act and the REINS Act aim to paralyze federal rulemaking, making it impossible for our government to protect the health and financial security of everyday Americans. Congress should reject both bills as unwarranted and damaging attempts to undermine the ability of agencies to protect the public from existing and foreseeable harms.”
Brian J. Siebel, director of Justice Programs Alliance for Justice