OMB Leveraging the CRA to Add to Its Oversight of Independent Regulatory Agencies

by Bill Funk | April 16, 2019

Last week, the acting director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a memorandum to all agencies regarding compliance with the Congressional Review Act (CRA). This memo supersedes one issued in 1999 and pulls independent regulatory agencies – specifically designed by Congress to be less prone to political interference than executive agencies – into a far more centralized CRA review process.

The CRA requires federal agencies to send newly adopted rules to the House and Senate before the rules become effective. This enables both houses the opportunity to adopt a joint resolution disapproving the rule. If both houses adopt such a resolution, it is sent to the President for his signature or veto. Although only one rule was disapproved under the CRA in its first 20 years of existence, in the first year of the Trump administration, some 14 regulations were disapproved under the CRA.

The CRA specifically defines "rule" and "federal agency" to mean the same as the definition of "rule" and "agency" in the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). It then exempts in whole or in part certain types of rules from its requirements, notably all the rules that the APA exempts from notice and comment rulemaking, except interpretive rules and general statements of policy.

Despite the language of the CRA that clearly includes guidance documents as rules subject to its provisions, many, if not most, agencies did not send guidance documents to the House ...

FERC Rejection of Coal Subsidies Proposal Demonstrates Importance of Independent Agencies

by James Goodwin | January 09, 2018
On January 8, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) struck a resounding blow against the Trump administration's ill-advised agenda to put its thumb on the scale of the energy market by propping up the coal industry, unanimously rejecting a controversial proposal by Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Rick Perry. Perry's plan would have resulted in working families and small businesses subsidizing the coal industry to the tune of hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars. Dozens of energy policy ...

President Obama's Puzzling New Executive Order: Should the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Really be Spending Its Precious Time and Resources Weakening Existing Regulations?

by Thomas McGarity | July 13, 2011
On Monday, the White House announced that President Obama had signed a new executive order on federal regulation to supplement January’s executive order to executive branch regulatory agencies. The new executive order is aimed at the “independent agencies,” so named because the heads of those agencies do not serve at the pleasure of the president. By statute, they serve for a term of years and can be removed from office only “for cause,” which usually means misbehavior unrelated to the exercise of ...

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