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Weekly Column: Federal Agency Accountability

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

Enactment of new federal legislation often expands, rather than narrows, the federal government’s responsibilities.  Examples include administering federal programs and payments, such as COVID relief.  America is not made strong by a large central government that overspends.  Rather, our country is strengthened by respecting the abilities of the individual, and limiting the federal government’s size and reach will help reduce spending and restore the balance of power established in the U.S. Constitution.  There are many opportunities to limit unnecessary and outdated federal programs and regulations, thereby cutting wasteful federal spending of taxpayer dollars.  Congress should advance legislation helping to take a fresh look at federal agency operations to identify how federal functions can be updated and simplified.

I have backed multiple pieces of legislation, including S. 2239, the Unnecessary Agency Regulations Reduction Act, and fellow U.S. Senator for Idaho Jim Risch’s S. 3996, the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act, in this Congress, to reduce burdensome government regulations and get rid of outdated, duplicative or unnecessary agency regulations.  Idaho’s recent deregulation efforts have strengthened its position as a magnet for ingenuity, growth and free enterprise.  The federal government should follow suit, take a hard look at its laundry list of regulations and get rid of those that are mere power grabs that drown American innovation in paperwork and inefficiency.  Senator Risch’s Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act would build on the Trump Administration’s deregulation effort by codifying a 2017 Trump-era executive order to weed out old, unnecessary, and inefficient regulations and requiring agencies to initiate simpler, cost-saving regulations.  Under the Trump Administration, federal regulations hit their lowest levels since the 1990s. 

I have also co-sponsored legislation to reduce the growth of new agencies and programs and sunset unjustified existing ones.  Legislation I co-sponsored would delineate a concise plan for instituting a full review of all federal agencies.  S. 925, the Federal Agency Sunset Commission Act, would help streamline operations and identify inefficiencies of bloated federal agencies through the following steps:

  • Create a 13 member bipartisan Commission to review the efficiency and public need for each federal agency;
  •  Require Congress to vote on the Commission’s timeline for abolishment of agencies within a year of the bill’s passage; and
  • Expedite the process for Congress to vote on a joint resolution either adopting or rejecting the recommendations of the Commission.

The legislation also takes into account the immediate and ongoing need to consider the likelihood of pending congressional actions to grow and duplicate the federal government.  Consequently, the legislation would require the Commission to review and report to Congress on all legislation introduced in Congress that would establish a new agency, or a new program to be carried out by an existing agency.  Additionally, the Commission would be required to recommend annually, in the form of legislation, whether the reviewed agencies should be abolished, reorganized or continued and whether the responsibilities of agencies should be consolidated, transferred or reorganized. 

As stewards of federal spending, Congress must exercise its oversight responsibilities to prevent waste, fraud and abuse of federal programs.  The federal government must be limited, and taxpayer dollars must be used efficiently to effectively help Americans.  The Federal Agency Sunset Commission Act, the Unnecessary Agency Regulations Reduction Act and the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act will help accomplish this oversight responsibility.  We must continue to do more to stop federal control from creeping into more aspects of our lives.

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