Regulatory reform in the 118th Congress: The ERASER Act

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Our current regulatory state suffocates Americans with high costs. On a micro level, research by CEI Fred L. Smith Fellow in Regulatory Studies Clyde Wayne Crews has found that “if one assumed that all costs of federal regulation flowed all the way down to households, U.S. households would ‘pay’ $14,684 annually on average in a hidden regulatory tax.” And that’s not all. More broadly, “if it were a country, U.S. regulation would be the world’s eighth-largest economy.”

Cognizant of this burden, Senator Eric Schmitt (R-MO) recently introduced the Expediting Reform and Stopping Excess Regulations Act (ERASER Act). This bill would require agencies to repeal three “burdensome and outdated regulations” before issuing a new one. The legislation is Schmitt’s first bill and shows he is placing a high priority on regulatory reform to “ensure that the power is returned to where it belongs: the people.”

In his press release on the legislation, Schmitt explains this bill’s specifics:

  • Prohibits agencies from issuing a major rule unless the agency has repealed three (3) or more rules AND the cost of the new major rule is less than or equal to the cost of the rules repealed, as certified by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.
  • Major rules include any rules that (a) cost $100 million or more, (b) cause a major increase in costs or prices for consumers or individual industries, or (c) have a significant adverse effect on competition, employment, investment, or innovation of US businesses. 
  • Requires GAO to conduct a study on all rules currently in effect as of the date of the bill’s enactment.

This bill’s concept is nothing new—it reimagines President Trump’s  2017 Executive Order 13771 that required agencies to remove two preexisting rules before putting forward a new regulation. Biden undid E.O. 13771 shortly after taking office and his new 2023 regulatory agenda outlines 3,666 new rules in the pipeline. With this increase in regulation on the horizon, the ERASER Act would help tackle administrative overreach.

The ERASER Act would help Americans in two essential ways:

  1. Reduced regulatory costs: The 2017 order saved small businesses $733 million in regulation costs in just two years. It is anticipated that the ERASER Act will yield similar outcomes.
  2. Reform agency accountability: The ERASER Act will prompt federal agencies to think more critically about regulations. Agencies will more thoroughly consider if the proposed rule is necessary while reevaluating current regulations’ efficacy.

Currently, the bill has four co-sponsors. There is no companion legislation in the House. All considered, the ERASER Act would be significant step to curtail the administrative state.

This post is part of an occasional series looking at regulatory reform bills in Congress. Previous posts cover the REINS ActGOOD ActLess Is More ResolutionArticle I Regulatory Budget ActALERT ActSeparation of Powers Restoration Act, Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act, and the Regulatory Accountability Act