The Federal Register Topped 70,000 Pages Today

The Federal Register, where federal agencies’ daily rules, regulations, notices, “guidance,” bulletins and other material accumulate each day, just topped 70,000 pages for 2014. 

70,052 in fact.

The Register isn’t a very precise measure of regulatory activity, but it is one of the metrics we have in a largely unaccountable regulatory enterprise.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) likes to keep a stack of Federal Registers next to a stack of Public Laws, which, unlike regulations, are actually passed by Congress and signed by the President.

You know, the way the Constitution intended.

The towering Federal Register mountain dwarfs the leaflet-like stack of public laws. Laws annually number a few dozens; but agency rules always top 3,500. So far this year, we stand at 3,196 rules in the Federal Register.

As the chart nearby shows, of the five highest ever Federal Register page counts, four have occurred under President Obama.

President Bush’s last year, 2008, was an obvious big one. But it can be seen that the level of rulemaking and activity is otherwise considerably higher under the current president than it ever was before. Two of Obama’s years surpassed 80,000 pages.

While 2014 is not likely to be a record year for Federal Register page counts when we hit December 31, it’ll be notable, likely over 75,000 pages.

What matters in any event is that these rules always accumulate, they rarely decrease. 

The United States will very likely be considering reforms over the coming two years and during the next presidency. Expect plenty debate.