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OMB Guidance on Major Rules & Regulatory Dark Matter is a Real Step Toward Stopping Regulatory Abuses

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The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) yesterday released new guidance re-asserting the requirement that agencies submit major notice-and-comment rules and certain major sub-regulatory guidance (or “regulatory dark matter”) to Congress for review and consideration under the Congressional Review Act (CRA). CEI has long advocated for legislation or an Executive Order bringing more transparency to and curtailing the use of sub-regulatory guidance.

CEI Vice President for Policy Wayne Crews said:

“The guidance issued on April 11, 2019 by Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Acting Director Russell Vought aimed at reinforcing regulatory agencies’ already mandatory compliance with the Congressional Review Act (CRA) is an important affirmation of Congress's primacy in lawmaking, and a major symbolic and real step toward curtailing the abuses of the administrative state. The OMB guidance requires (or more correctly, reasserts the oft-ignored requirement) that agencies to submit both major notice-and-comment rules and certain major sub-regulatory guidance documents, which I like to call ‘regulatory dark matter,’ to Congress for review and consideration under the CRA. This requirement applies to independent agencies (which escape OMB's cost-benefit oversight) as well, with certain specified exemptions.

“Requiring more oversight of rules and dark matter is a sensible and essential step for bringing more accountability into the regulatory process. I hope the White House builds on the guidance issued by OMB with a strong executive order from the President bringing additional transparency to and oversight of the entire regulatory and administrative state enterprise, which has major impacts on businesses and consumers just as taxes do. It is rare to see an executive branch yield power back to another branch of government, such an order would establish an important legacy for the administration and regulatory process itself, but most importantly,a reaffirmation of constitutional principle.”

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