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Bringing accountability to regulation -- and regulators

Oct 25, 2011
Carter Wood

The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing today on H.R. 3010, the Regulatory Accountability Act of 2010. Good goal -- accountability -- good legislation, good hearing. Business Roundtable released a statement last month lauding the bill's introduction as offering necessary modernization of the Administrative Procedures Act.

Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) opened the hearing with a statement, explaining, "Under its provisions, agencies are required to assess the costs and benefits of regulatory alternatives.  Unless interests of public health, safety or welfare require otherwise, agencies must adopt the least-cost alternative that achieves the regulatory objectives Congress has established."

C. Boyden Gray gave excellent testimony, summarizing:

The Act applies the lessons of both logic and experience to solve some of the stark problems raised by the regulatory state’s sudden, exponential new growth. On matters of public finance, energy and the environment, telecommunications, and health care, regulatory agencies are taking broadly worded statutory grants of power and applying them in ways that threaten to undermine America’s competitive standing in the world, and American liberty at home.

Against that backdrop, the Act has many provisions that I welcome, including new formal-hearing requirements for major rules and high-impact rules, and an ongoing duty to revisit previously promulgated major rules and high-impact rules. But I would like to focus my testimony today on two subjects: First, and most importantly, the Act codifies cost-benefit requirements that have governed the Executive agencies for three decades, but which have not governed “independent” agencies, such as the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). And second, the Act prudently reinforces the courts’ important oversight role through judicial review.

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