House Moves on Three Reg Reform Bills

March 2, 2017

This week, House lawmakers will vote on three bills overhauling various components of the regulatory process by seeking to change the way agencies review and repeal old rules.

The first bill, H.R. 998, Searching for and Cutting Regulations That Are Unnecessarily Burdensome Act (SCRUB Act) would establish a temporary commission of nine people, picked by the president and confirmed by the Senate, to review rules 15 years and older that are outdated, unnecessary or otherwise ripe for repeal. The measure would authorize $30 million for five years and aims to cut 15 percent of all rules published in the Federal Register.

On Feb. 28, the House approved by a vote of 348-75 an amendment from Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Calif.) that would require consideration of impacts to public health before repealing rules — a gain for Democrats who have repeatedly expressed concern about the potential negative effects of scrapping old mandates. However, lawmakers voted down three other amendments. One from Del. Stacey Plaskett (D-Virgin Islands) would have stripped the bill of all funding. It failed 181-243. An amendment from Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) to ensure the bill does not hinder safe and legal development of drones failed 189-234. Another amendment by Rep. Krishnamoorthi to safeguard noise protection policies near airports failed 192-230.

The House Rules Committee also sent two additional regulatory reform bills to the floor: the Regulatory Integrity Act (H.R. 1004) and the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs Insight, Reform and Accountability Act (H.R. 1009).

The Regulatory Integrity Act would require agencies to disclose actions about pending rules along with their public communications about those rules. It would also prohibit agencies from using those communications to lobby the public, which is language that comes in response to efforts by Environmental Protection Agency to promote its Waters of the U.S. rule that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) later concluded violated the law. While under consideration of the measure, several amendments came out of the Rules Committee, including an amendment from Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) to clarify the terms “propaganda,” “publicity” and “advocacy” to mean any information or claims that are unsupported by science or empirical data; an amendment from Rep. Luke Messer (R-Ind.) to require agencies display any regulatory actions that duplicate or overlap with others and another amendment from Rep. Jackson Lee that would exempt any communication that is protected under the First Amendment.

The OIRA Insight, Reform and Accountability Act seeks to put OIRA, an agency in the White House Office of Management and Budget, under congressional oversight. It would require a report on proposed rules and retrospective reviews to eliminate outdated standards. Republicans praised the measure as a codification of OIRA, while Democrats cautioned the measure would force independent agencies to report to the office in a dramatic shift from the status quo.

According to NSBA’s recently-released 2017 Small Business Regulations Survey, the average small-business owner is spending at least $12,000 every year dealing with regulations. Our federal regulations have real-world implications for economic growth: more than half of small businesses have held off on hiring a new employee due to regulatory burdens. This burden is becoming an insurmountable burden to those who would consider starting their own business: when asked to estimate their businesses’ first year’s regulatory costs, the average was a whopping $83,019. Thus, NSBA supports legislation which will stem the flow of regulations coming out of federal agencies as small businesses struggle to keep up.

Please click here to download NSBA’s 2017 Small Business Regulations Survey.

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