Anglosphere nations offer models to rein in executive overreach

WASHINGTON (Mar. 2, 2017) – If Congress and President Donald Trump want to address the ever-growing power of the executive branch to issue orders and regulations, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom all offer lessons for change, argues a new policy study by R Street Associate Fellow Sean Speer.

By relinquishing rulemaking authority to the executive branch, Congress has found itself increasingly relegated to a secondary role, even as the executive branch uses its often-unchecked powers to enact scores of new regulations. Among the examples Speer cites is use of the Clean Air Act to enact, on average, 350 pages of regulations for every year the law has been in effect.

One proposal to address the problem is a requirement that Congress vote on major regulations and form a commission to remove ineffective regulations.

“Another institutional reform that should be considered is to create a legislative committee that would scrutinize ‘delegated legislation’ and ensure that any new rules and regulations promulgated by the executive comply with the law,” the author argues. “Such committees exist in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, and generally serve to diminish executive overreach with regards to its legal authority in regulation and rulemaking.”

Adequately addressing the issue is of fundamental importance, ultimately touching on the foundational basis of our form of government. Speer concludes:

“The cost of regulatory sprawl and executive overreach has not just been financial. It also comes at the expense of the U.S. Constitution and the founders’ vision. The election of Donald Trump to the presidency presents an opportunity to reverse this trend. Early signs are positive, including passage of the REINS Act and a commitment to implement regulatory budgeting. But there is, no doubt, more be work to be done.”

R Street is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy research organization whose mission is to promote free markets and limited, effective government. It has headquarters in Washington, D.C. and five regional offices across the country. Its website is www.rstreet.org.

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