H.R. 367

Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act of 2013

Sponsor
Rep. Todd Young

Committee

Date
August 1, 2013 (113th Congress, 1st Session)

Staff Contact
Emily Leviner

Floor Situation

On Thursday, August 1, 2013 the House will begin consideration of H.R. 367, the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act of 2013 (REINS Act), under a rule.  H.R. 367 was introduced on January 23, 2013 by Rep. Todd Young (R-IN) and has 164 cosponsors.  H.R. 367 was marked up on April 11, 2013 by the House Committee on the Judiciary and was ordered to be reported, as amended, by a vote of 20-9.  The bill was also referred to the House Committees on Finance and Budget, which both discharged the bill on July 19, 2013.[1]

Bill Summary

H.R. 367 alters the treatment of major regulations[1] under the Congressional Review Act, while preserving the existing congressional disapproval process under the Act for non-major rules.  Specifically, H.R. 367 requires Congress to pass and the President to sign a joint resolution of approval before a new major regulation issued by a federal agency may take effect.  For non-major rules, H.R. 367 continues the current process of allowing the rule to take effect unless Congress passes and the President signs a resolution of disapproval

For all new regulations—both major and non-major—the promulgating agency must submit to Congress and the Comptroller General a report generally containing the regulation, its classification as major or non-major, other related regulatory actions and their individual and aggregate economic impact, and the proposed effective date of the rule.  Copies of the report must be provided to all congressional committees of jurisdiction.  On the same day, the promulgating agency also must provide other relevant material, including a cost-benefit analysis of the rule.  For major rules, the Comptroller General must, within 15 days of receiving the initial report, provide to the congressional committees of jurisdiction a report assessing the agency’s compliance with procedural steps required by H.R. 367 and an assessment of whether the major rule imposes any new limits or mandates on private-sector activity.

For major regulations, H.R. 367 establishes specific time constraints within which a joint resolution of approval must be introduced, considered by the relevant committees of jurisdiction, and brought before the full House and Senate for a vote.  Generally, H.R. 367 prevents major regulations from taking effect unless Congress passes and the President signs a joint resolution of approval within 70 legislative days of the initial report received by Congress.  H.R. 367 limits the permissible contents in a joint resolution of approval for a major regulation.[2]

H.R. 367 provides a presidential exception, allowing a major rule to take effect for a 90-day period if the President issues an executive order saying the rule is needed because of an imminent threat to health or safety; to enforce a criminal law; for national security; or for international trade.  The President must provide written notice to Congress if he uses the exception.

When a non-major rule is promulgated, H.R. 367 provides that each congressional body has 60 legislative days to introduce a joint resolution of disapproval.  H.R. 367 specifies the permissible contents of the joint resolution of disapproval for a non-major regulation.[3]  Non-major rules take effect after the report is submitted to Congress, unless a joint resolution of disapproval is passed by each house and signed by the President.



[1] “Major regulations are those that produce $100 million or more in impacts on the U.S. economy, spur major increases in costs or prices for consumers, or have significant adverse effects on the economy.” Committee Report 113-160 at 7.

[2] The joint resolution of approval may not include a preamble.  It must include the following title (with blanks filled as appropriate): “Approving the rule submitted by ______ relating to ________.”  After the resolving clause, it must say only the following (with blanks filled as appropriate): “That Congress approves the rule submitted by _________ relating to _________.”  H.R. 367 §802.

[3] After the resolving clause, the joint resolution of disapproval must say: “That Congress disapproves the nonmajor rule submitted by the ______ relating to _______, and such rule shall have no force or effect.”  H.R. 367 §803.

Background

The Congressional Review Act (CRA)[1] was enacted in 1996 to create “a mechanism for Congress to review and disapprove Federal agencies’ rules through an expedited legislative process.”[2]  Under the CRA, a rule can be prevented from taking effect if a joint resolution of disapproval is passed by both houses and signed by the President.  However, since the CRA was enacted, it has been used only once to successfully prevent a rule from taking effect.[3]  From its enactment until May of 2008, only 47 joint resolutions of disapproval had been introduced in Congress pursuant to the CRA, while Federal agencies had promulgated 47,540 major and non-major rules during the same period.[4]

Since the CRA was enacted, Congress has continued working to strengthen its oversight of administrative rulemaking.  As early as the 104th Congress, proposals emerged to alter the CRA to require congressional approval of administrative rulemaking before regulations could become effective.[5]  The need for enhanced oversight of Federal rulemaking has become even more apparent during the Obama Administration. 

In 2009, Federal agencies promulgated 3,503 final rules, while Congress passed and the President signed into law only 125 statutes.  Last term, the Small Business’ Office of Advocacy reported that Federal rulemaking imposed a cumulative burden of $1.75 trillion on our economy—a figure that equaled fourteen percent of national income.  [In February 2013], Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Ph.D., former Congressional Budget Office Director and current head of the American Action Forum, testified before the [Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law] that, taking into account the costs imposed by Obama Administration regulations to date and [proposed regulations pending at that time], “[d]uring the past 4 years, the cumulative regulatory cost burden has increased by more than $520 billion[.]”  Dr. Holtz-Eakin further testified that: “To put the $520 billion figure in perspective, it is more than the combined gross domestic product of Portugal and Norway, and there is little evidence 2013 will slow this pace.”[6]

Furthermore, additional costly administrative rulemaking is expected to be promulgated to implement Obamacare,[7] the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act,[8] and the President’s climate change agenda.


[1] 5 U.S.C. §§801-808.

[2] Committee Report 113-160 at 8.

[3] Id.

[4] Id.

[5] Id. at 9.

[6] Id. at 9-10.

[7] “[T]hrough just July 31, 2010, a full 3,833 pages of Federal regulations had already been issued under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.” Committee Report 113-160 at 10.

[8] “[T]he Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act imposes a host of regulatory obligations which agencies have yet to fulfill—it requires the promulgation of 398 rules, of which only 136 have yet been completed.  That leaves 262 final rules to be done, of which only 133 had even been proposed as of February 2013.”  Id.

Cost

According to CBO estimates, “CBO and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) cannot determine the budgetary effects of preventing all future major rules from going into effect, but [they] expect that enacting H.R. 367 would have significant effects on both direct spending and revenues.  Pay-as-you-go procedures apply because enacting the legislation would affect direct spending and revenues.  CBO expects that implementing H.R. 367 also could have a significant impact on spending subject to appropriation, although [they] cannot determine the magnitude of that effect.”[1]



[1] “H.R. 367 would make the implementation of new major regulations dependent on future legislation.  Because CBO does not assume enactment of subsequent legislation in estimating a bill’s effect on direct spending and revenues, this estimate addresses the costs and savings that would be realized if anticipated major rules do not take effect.” CBO Cost Estimate: H.R. 367 (May 17, 2013).

Amendments

1)         Rep. Scalise (R-LA) Amendment #20 – Amendment requires the Administration to receive approval from Congress before implementing a carbon tax.

2)         Reps. Rodney Davis (R-IL), Peterson (D-MN) Amendment #15 – Amendment adds to the definition of what constitutes a “major rule” to include any interim final rule issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that would have a significant impact on a substantial amount of agricultural entities (as determined by the Secretary of Agriculture).

3)         Rep. Smith (R-MO) Amendment #3 – Amendment requires congressional approval for all rules under the authority of the Affordable Care Act.

4)         Rep. Latham (R-IA) Amendment #22 – Amendment clarifies that the report required to be submitted to Congress by Federal agencies promulgating a rule under the Act, must include a list of any related regulatory actions taken by or that will be taken by the promulgating agency or other agencies to implement the same statute or regulatory objective.  This would ensure agencies are fully considering the issue of limiting duplicative regulatory requirements, and disclosing potential duplication to Congress.

5)         Rep. Sessions (R-TX), Rodney Davis (R-IL), Barr (R-KY), Wenstrup (R-OH), Coffman (R-CO) Amendment #10 – Amendment requires the agency submitting the report on a proposed Federal rule to include an assessment, as part of the cost-benefit analysis submitted to the Comptroller General and each House of Congress, of anticipated jobs gained or lost as a result of implementation, and to specify whether those jobs will come from the public or private sector.

6)         Rep. Nadler (D-NY) Amendment #12 – Amendment exempts from the bill's congressional approval requirement any rule pertaining to nuclear reactor safety standards in order to prevent nuclear meltdowns like the one in Fukushima.  The amendment would ensure enhanced nuclear safety protection requirements can go into effect.

7)         Rep. Johnson (D-GA) Amendment #4 – Amendment exempts from the provisions of the bill any rule that the Office of Management and Budget determines would result in net job creation.

8)         Rep. Jackson Lee (D-TX) Amendment #19 – Amendment exempts from the bill's congressional approval requirement any rule promulgated by the Department of Homeland Security.

9)         Rep. McKinley (R-WV) Amendment #2 – Amendment reduces the annual effect on the economy of the term ‘major rule’ from $100 million or more to $50 million or more.

10)      Rep. Cole (R-OK) Amendment #1 – Amendment ensures that the impact on Tribal government agencies would be included in the determination of whether a rule constitutes a major rule.

11)      Rep. Webster (R-FL) Amendment #16 – Amendment closes a regulatory loophole that prevents federal agencies from implementing significant policy changes through internal guidance without appropriate congressional review.  Brings administrative rules that are not typically developed through the formal notice-and-comment rulemaking process, having an economic impact of $100 million or more as scored by the Office of Management and Budget before Congress for a vote.

12)      Rep. Moore (D-WI) Amendment #13 – Amendment exempts rules pertaining to veterans from the additional requirements of this Act.

Additional Information

Key Messaging
  • Congress has delegated an excessive amount of its constitutional lawmaking authority to Federal agencies.
  • This has created a lack of accountability, allowing agencies to issue rules that are costly, complex, and ineffective.
  • Federal agencies issue dozens of major regulations each year that are estimated to have an impact on the economy of more than $100 million each.  The cost of complying with these regulations stifles economic growth and hurts job creation.
  • The REINS Act would restore congressional accountability by requiring Congress and the President to approve major rules before they can be enforced against the American people.
  • It would improve the regulatory process by making Members of Congress accountable to their constituents for the regulations that go into effect, and would prevent unnecessary regulations.

For questions or further information contact the GOP Conference at 5-5107.