AT the top of the list for Republicans this Congress is rolling back what they see as expensive, erroneous and burdensome regulations from the Obama Administration.
Last Tuesday, the House passed the Regulatory Accountability Act. The bill updates and reinvigorates the Administrative Procedures Act, which is now nearly seven decades old. This legislation would require agencies to be more open and transparent about the data justifying a rule.
The most costly rules would be subject to on-the-record hearings, and agencies would be required to consider the impact of such rules on jobs and the economy. Moreover, agencies' ability to use guidance and interim final rules would be constrained, American Farm Bureau Federation president Bob Stallman explained in a statement.
The bill's sponsors, House Judiciary Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte (R., Va.) and House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson (D., Minn.), said the regulatory burden for each U.S. household adds up to $15,000.
Obama has been busy on the regulatory front. During the first seven days of 2015, the Federal Register carried 300 regulatory actions, including proposed and final rules and regulatory notices, according to www.regulations.gov. Rules for energy, the environment and agriculture make up a big chunk of the new notices, according to reports.
Peterson said the legislation will increase transparency and accountability while streamlining the regulatory process for farmers, ranchers and small businesses.
American Feed Industry Assn. (AFIA) president and chief executive officer Joel Newman said, "AFIA, along with most of the business community, supports necessary, narrowly tailored regulations congruent to accurate data and evidence, which would practically achieve the objective. These rules should impose practical and risk-justified compliance and cost burdens on our membership while implementing congressional intent."
Newman said the new act would affect the mindset and encourage any new rule-making to be more practical and cost justified.
For example, he said the feed industry is very committed to protecting the safety of feed for animals and pets, but one of the major concerns AFIA has with the proposed Food Safety Modernization Act is that the benefits are estimated to be no more than one-third of the projected high costs to implement the proposal, several requirements of which may not actually enhance food or feed safety.
Newman added that if this bill is passed, agencies would have more support for their positions if they follow the requirements.
"We need something better than attack, counterattack and litigation," Stallman added.
President Barack Obama has already issued a veto threat, saying the 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" — and would "impose unnecessary new procedures on agencies and invite frivolous litigation."
AFIA, the Farm Bureau and others have urged the Senate to take up the bill as well. Steve Kopperud, executive director of Policy Directions and lobbyist for AFIA, said it appears that the Senate can approve the House's bill.
"However, we will first see concerns addressed from the naysayers about how the added requirements will create additional costs and slow down protections, among other reservations," Kopperud said. "The looming question is whether or not either chamber can muster the needed two-thirds vote to override the expected veto from President Obama."