Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) recently introduced the Unnecessary Agency Regulations Act, a bill that directs the Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs to annually identify regulations deemed to be obsolete, redundant, or burdensome and to send those as a list to Congress for consolidation or removal.
CEI president Kent Lassman said:
The regulatory state is so big and penetrates our lives in so many ways, any effort to eliminate burdensome regulation is welcome. With each section of the federal code we must ask: If we wouldn’t create this regulation tomorrow, why should we keep it today? It’s past time to cut back and Senator Scott’s legislation is something that can appeal to all reasonable lawmakers.
CEI senior economist Ryan Young said:
Federal agencies issue more than 3,000 new regulations a year, every year. But older regulations hardly ever get repealed, even when they become obsolete or redundant. As a result, the Code of Federal Regulations now exceeds 185,000 pages.
The Unnecessary Agency Regulations Act is a housekeeping measure that would require the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and Congress to annually prune older regulations that don’t work.
Even this modest reform can help lower consumer prices, lower barriers to entry for new businesses, and stimulate the economy without new deficit spending.
Fred L. Smith Fellow in Regulatory Studies Clyde Wayne Crews said:
Congressional leadership on regulatory streamlining is more urgent than ever given the post-COVID legislative flurry that has exacerbated administrative state overreach and burdens. Senator Rick Scott’s (R-FL) Unnecessary Agency Regulations Reduction Act is a vital bill that would help reduce these burdens and remove outdated, duplicative, or unnecessary rules.
The bill requires that OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs critically assess regulations and consider GAO evaluations of unnecessary duplication. OMB would then have to compile an annual report to Congress on outdated, duplicative, or unnecessary major rules that could be eliminated. That report would give Congress what it needs to begin the task of eliminating these needless regulations via joint resolution.
As a hidden tax whose costs rival the unambiguous toll we deal with every tax season, the burdens of federal regulation require far greater disclosure and fresh legislative mechanisms like those in UARRA.
The “Criteria for Review” section in the bill is particularly important. The various benchmarks for identifying unnecessary regulations include consideration of economic impacts, potential harms to competition and innovation, effects on wage growth, outdatedness, if they have achieved their original purpose, and more. Properly adhering to these criteria would expose many of the rules in need of streamlining.
Executed correctly, UARRA would also bring about the executive branch supervision needed for this streamlining to occur. The bill puts the administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs explicitly in charge of considering and acting upon the regulatory pruning criteria, leaving little room for them to drag their feet in resisting compliance.
Without this legislation, President Biden’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs will undoubtedly continue its pro-regulatory agenda that rejects the historical “watchdog” mission of OIRA and instead transforms it into an office of regulatory advocacy. This is evident with OMB’s rewrite of the Circular A-4 regulatory review guidance and its transformation of the 2023 Information Collection Budget.
UARRA could put the brakes on these initiatives and may even push OMB to publish the years-late Report to Congress on Regulatory Costs and Benefits – which itself would further help lawmakers streamline regulation.
Congress is often called upon to reassert its primary legislative role and end its practice of over-delegation. The purging of unnecessary rules and regulations is central to that mission. The expansive legislative efforts in COVID’s wake escalated under the Biden administration are already spawning new regulation and sub-regulatory guidance, a trickle likely to become a flood; thus making the need for the Unnecessary Agency Regulations Act even more apparent.
More from CEI:
The Case for Letting Crises Go to Waste: How an “Abuse-of-Crisis Prevention Act” Can Help Rein in Runaway Government GrowthCEI Supports Sen. Rick Scott and Rep. Byron Donalds’s New Regulatory Reform Bill to Prune Unneeded Rules