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Regulatory Reform in 2017: REINS and the Regulatory Accountability Act

Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed the REINS Act, which would require Congress to vote on the 40-to-50 or so regulations each year which cost $100 million per year or more. This represents between one and two percent of the more than 3,500 regulations agencies pass in most years.

Once it passes the House, REINS will go to the Senate for the fourth time, and possibly the President’s desk for the first time.

Regulatory reform is one of the new Congress’ highest priorities. The $1.9 trillion burden federal regulations impose on consumers and entrepreneurs is simply too much. Federal regulations raise prices, reduce choice, and make it harder to start businesses, let alone keep their doors open. Congress needs to enact measures that reduce current burdens, and prevent future ones. Fortunately, there is another reform bill in the House that deserves attention and CEI urges its passage.

The Regulatory Accountability Act, introduced by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), compiles six earlier reform bills which would benefit consumers and entrepreneurs. Several previous versions of the bills have already passed the House—though again, not the Senate. Nor have they been touched by a president’s pen. These reforms include:

  • The Regulatory Accountability Act, which would require agencies to use less costly regulations, rather than more costly regulations, to achieve a given objective.
  • The Separation of Powers Restoration Act, which would enable the judiciary to “end judicial deference to bureaucrats’ statutory and regulatory interpretations.” This reform would go a long way to lighten what Wayne Crews calls “regulatory dark matter.”
  • The Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act, which would require agencies to explain how their actions affect small business owners, employees, and customers.
  • The REVIEW Act, which would prevent new rules with billion-dollar annual costs from taking effect until litigation against them has been resolved. It would not affect current regulations.
  • The ALERT Act, which would require agencies to publish already-mandatory transparency reports that they regularly dodge.
  • The Providing Accountability Through Transparency Act, which would require agencies to publish summaries of their new rules in the English language, more or less.

The Regulatory Accountability Act is not a perfect bill, but it is certainly better than what we have now—just ask anyone who has tried to start their own business. As advocates for free markets, limited government, and economic and individual liberty, CEI supports this bill. Read the complete legislation here

This post was updated on January 10, 2017.