Ahead of Markup, CPR Member Scholars Voice Concerns over the Senate Regulatory Accountability Act

James Goodwin

May 16, 2017

Today, 27 Member Scholars of the Center for Progressive Reform, leading academics who specialize in administrative law and regulatory policy, submitted a letter to Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson and Ranking Member Claire McCaskill outlining their serious concerns with the Senate Regulatory Accountability Act. That bill is among several aimed at undermining our system of regulatory safeguards that are set to be marked up by the committee at its business meeting on Wednesday. Others set to be marked up include the Senate REINS Act and the Senate Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Improvement Act

In the letter, CPR Member Scholars identified seven troubling aspects of the bill:

  • A requirement for a trial-like, adversarial hearing for many "major" rules and all "high-impact" rules that will likely lead to inefficient and undemocratic rulemaking;  
  • A vague and misplaced requirement that agencies choose the most "cost-effective" regulatory approach they considered;  
  • An ineffective "savings clause"  
  • Increased and unwarranted politicization of agency science;  
  • Increased litigation over agency rules and new opportunities for judicial interference in agency decision-making;  
  • Excessive and dangerous concentration of power within the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs; and  
  • Convoluted requirements that will make issuing important guidance documents all but impossible. 

The letter concludes by observing how the drafters of the Senate RAA have fundamentally misdiagnosed the existing flaws with the regulatory system. It calls on the committee to adopt a new, more effective approach to regulatory reform – one that "would make it easier for agencies to issue new safeguards, or update existing ones, in a timely and effective manner." 

The full letter is available on CPR's website. You can also find a full analysis of the Senate RAA and a shorter summary analysis on the site.

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