House passes bill to ‘rein in excessive regulatory costs.’ Could it become law?

January 15 at 6:00 AM

The Republican-controlled House this week approved a bill that would impose additional red tape on federal regulators, the people normally dispensing the tape.

The measure, which passed on Tuesday with support from eight Democrats, would require agencies to adopt the least-costly regulations considered during rule-making, with limited exceptions.

The proposal would also add more than 74 new requirements to the rule-making process, many of which would require regulators to carefully document whether they answered questions such as:

* Have you considered the alternative of no federal response?

* Have you considered whether this rule would contribute to the very problem you’re trying to address?

* Are you legally authorized to propose a rule in this situation?

* Have you considered the benefits of alternative rules?

Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), who sponsored the legislation, said in a statement last week that the measure would “rein in excessive regulatory costs.”

Although the bill passed the house, it is unclear whether the new Republican-controlled Senate will bother to vote on it, especially after the White House threatened to veto the measure on Monday.

The White House said in a statement that the proposal would “impose unprecedented and unnecessary procedural requirements on agencies that would prevent them from efficiently performing their statutory responsibilities” and “create needless regulatory uncertainty.”

The legislation’s supporters have brushed off that thinking, saying the bill would only give the government a taste of its own medicine.

“We feel your pain,” Dan Danner, chief executive of the National Federation of Independent Business, said in a statement this week. “It shouldn’t be easy for the government to make life harder for small businesses and individual citizens.”

If passed, the bill would hinder some of the Obama administration’s biggest regulatory efforts, including plans to implement stricter carbon-emissions standards and a proposal to reclassify Internet providers as public utilities.

In order to overcome a presidential veto, Congress would need to pass the legislation with a two-thirds vote, or supermajority, after Obama rejects it. Republicans do not have enough seats in the House or Senate to accomplish that feat on their own.

Josh Hicks covers the federal government and anchors the Federal Eye blog. He reported for newspapers in the Detroit and Seattle suburbs before joining the Post as a contributor to Glenn Kessler’s Fact Checker blog in 2011.

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