The U.S. House of Representatives passed the newest version of the Regulatory Accountability Act (RAA) in a 250-175 vote on Tuesday. The bill reforms the government’s process for analyzing and formulating new regulations and guidance documents.
Proponents of the bill argue that it will reduce costs and increase transparency in rulemaking, while opponents fear that it will prevent agencies from growing and addressing new issues for environmental, public health, workplace safety and consumer financial security protections.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Congressman Collin Peterson (D-MN) introduced the bill on Jan. 7 to provide a route for agencies “to fulfill its statutory goals set by Congress and requires simply that they reach those goals in the least costly way with better public input.”
A press release from Goodlatte’s office called the proposal a solution to “the problem of overreaching, ill-considered, and excessively costly federal regulation.”
President Obama has threatened to veto the RAA if it passes the Senate and reaches his desk. In a Statement of Administration Policy issued Monday, the White House said that the act “would make the regulatory process more expensive, less flexible, and more burdensome.”
The statement continued: “It would require cumbersome ‘formal’ rulemaking for a new category of rules, for which agencies would have to conduct quasi-adjudicatory proceedings. It would require unnecessary Advance Notices, beyond the standard notice and comment already required, for a large number of rules, and other unnecessary procedural steps that seem designed simply to impede the regulatory development process.”
Opponents of the RAA argue that it would add many additional requirements to the regulatory process (74 by the Center for Progressive Reform’s count) and significantly slow down rulemaking, or even discourage agencies from pursuing new rules.
“Agencies already take four to eight years to promulgate any type of complex and controversial regulation, and the new requirements would add another two to three years or more to the process,” according to the Center’s CPRBlog.
“Any high-stakes rule that miraculously made it through these roadblocks would face unprecedented challenges,” said the Coalition for Sensible Safeguards. “The RAA would allow industry lobbyists to second-guess the work of respected scientists through legal challenges, sparking a wave of litigation that would add even more costs and delays to the rulemaking process — while putting the lives, health and safety of millions of Americans at risk.”
If enacted, the RAA should not affect finalization of the Food Safety Modernization Act’s major rules since it would “not apply to any rule makings pending or completed on the date of enactment,” but it would likely impact any future food-safety regulation.
The bill now moves to the Senate, where its prospects are uncertain, but the proposal could have a chance of passage with the new Republican majority and possible support from moderate Democrats.© Food Safety News