NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Congress Looks At Regulatory Reform Legislation

October 18, 2000

In 1997, Rep. Sue Kelly (R-N.Y.) introduced a bill to create an independent agency to review regulatory rules for the legislative branch. That didn't fly. But Congress did pass the Truth in Regulating Act, which places authority in the General Accounting Office to evaluate the math that federal regulators use to estimate the cost of major new rules. The bill is expected to be signed into law.

  • The GAO would be directed to evaluate economically significant rules -- those estimated to cost more than $100 million to implement.
  • After a major rule is proposed, the GAO would check to see how the cost-benefit analysis was done and evaluate the agency's data, methodology and assumptions.
  • Under a three-year pilot program, the GAO would have 180 days to complete its report on each rule and send it to Congress.
  • Some members of Congress have been alarmed that some big-ticket items come through what they refer to as "back-door" regulating.

Potentially, Congress could ask for evaluation of any one of the 100 or so major rules that are issued annually -- and an additional 200 or so that might affect small businesses.

Congress voted itself authority to stop final rules in 1996. And the GAO analysis might allow members to use the provisions of the Congressional Review Act to stop final rules.

Source: Cindy Skrzycki, "Evaluating the Cost of New Regulations," Washington Post, October 17, 2000.


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