Want democratic legitimacy? Support congressional regulatory reform

WASHINGTON (April 11, 2017) – The election of Donald Trump poses what may be a serious opportunity for a sea change in the American regulatory state. Indeed, one of Trump’s first action’s as president was to issue Executive Order 13771, which created a regulatory budget and a “one in, two out” requirement for new federal rules.

However, relying solely on executive orders is unlikely to produce lasting deregulatory change. In a new policy study, R Street Governance Policy Fellow C. Jarrett Dieterle makes the case for congressional action on regulatory reform and analyzes recent and current regulatory-reform proposals before Congress.

“Today, it is estimated the total cumulative cost of federal regulations is just shy of $2 trillion,” Dieterle notes. “But this did not just happen overnight or by accident. Rather, it was largely the result of Congress’ decision to delegate greater and greater swaths of power to federal agencies. It is no exaggeration that today’s executive agencies legislate as much as they execute the law.”

Congress’ delegation of power to federal agencies also lets congressmen themselves off the hook, since they rarely are forced to vote on contentious regulations, a clear dereliction of the duties imposed by Article I of the U.S. Constitution. And while there remains considerable uncertainty as to whether Congress will pass significant regulatory-reform legislation, some bills introduced thus fare in the 115th session provide a glimmer of hope.

“During recent congressional sessions, numerous regulatory-reform bills have been considered in both the House and Senate,” Dieterle said. “Legislation such as the REINS Act, the SCRUB Act and the Article I Regulatory Budget Act could all potentially help promote sustainable deregulatory change while enhancing democratic accountability.”

 

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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