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Weekly Column: Scrutinizing Federal Regulation

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

Major federal rules must be rare and well-reasoned, given their outsized impact.  While Congress has enacted legislation attempting to curb federal overregulation, we cannot let up in working to ensure American productivity is not stymied by federal mandates.  I joined a bipartisan group of fellow senators in reintroducing legislation that would help keep federal regulation in check. 

On January 27, I joined in reintroducing S. 68, the Regulations from the Executive In Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act.  This legislation, led by Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) and co-sponsored by 29 senators, including fellow Idaho Senator Jim Risch, would establish a congressional approval process for major federal rules.  A major rule is a federal regulation that is likely to result in an annual $100 million effect on the economy; significantly increase costs or prices for consumers; and adversely affect competition, employment, investment, productivity, innovation or the ability of U.S.-based enterprises to compete with foreign-based enterprises. 

Under current law, the Congressional Review Act allows regulation to take effect unless Congress acts to overturn the rule with a joint resolution of disapproval, which the President can veto.  In contrast, the REINS Act would require the enactment of a joint resolution of approval (through votes in both the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives) before any major rule could be finalized, increasing much-needed transparency in the federal rulemaking process.  The legislation also details a process for congressional disapproval of non-major rules.  Further, the REINS Act would require a Government Accountability Office study of the number of rules in effect, the number of major rules in effect and the total estimated economic cost imposed by all such rules to help inform congressional cleanup of current overregulation.

To ignite American innovation, unreasonable federal regulation that hinders the ability of American businesses to expand and increase jobs must be continuously eliminated and prevented from taking root.  As more laws are enacted and federal rules become outdated, we cannot let up in weeding out unnecessary and overly-burdensome federal regulation.  We must also be vigilant and watchful of future federal regulation to ensure it does not do more harm than good.  I will continue to work to remove the excessive layers of regulation that are not providing benefits but are just bogging down innovation.  The REINS Act would advance this effort.

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