H.R. 899: Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act

H.R. 899

Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act

Date
February 28, 2014 (113th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Kimberly Betz

Floor Situation

On Friday, February 28, 2014, the House will consider H.R. 899, the Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act, under a rule.  H.R. 899 was introduced by Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC) on February 28, 2013 and has four cosponsors. H.R. 899 was reported by the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on July 24, 2013 by a vote 22-17.[1]

Bill Summary

H.R. 899 amends the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) to “improve the quality of Congressional deliberations and to enhance the ability of Congress, federal agencies, and the public to identify federal mandates that may impose undue harm on state, local, and tribal governments and the private sector by providing more complete information about the cost of such mandates and by holding Congress and federal agencies accountable for imposing unfunded mandates.”[1] 

Specially, H.R. 899 amends the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 to require CBO, at the request of Committee Chairs and Ranking Members, to assess the cost of changes in conditions that may be required of state, local, and tribal governments in order to receive federal assistance. The bill also amends the definition of “direct costs” to include forgone business profits and costs passed on to consumers.  Finally, the bill eliminates the current exemptions held by independent regulatory agencies from the UMRA reporting requirements. [2]

In addition, H.R. 899, among other things, amends the UMRA to transfer certain responsibilities from OMB to the Office of Information and Regulatory  Affairs; set criteria to guide agencies in assessing the effects of federal regulatory actions on state, local, and tribal governments and the private sector; revises the requirements for agency statements accompanying significant regulatory action; requires agencies to consult with the private sector (including small businesses) in developing regulatory proposals that contain federal mandates; and expands judicial review under the UMRA including expanding judicial powers to compel agencies to comply with the UMRA’s reporting requirements.[3] 



[1] See id, p 2

[2] See id, p.2-5

[3] See id

Background

The UMRA was enacted in 1995 to prevent the federal government from imposing unfunded federal mandates onto state and local governments.  The goal was two-fold: (1) to compel federal agencies to estimate the costs of unfunded mandates and (2) to ensure public awareness of these hidden costs.  The UMRA has not been amended since its enactment.  Despite its good intentions, “[the UMRA has] failed to curtail substantially the imposition of unfunded mandates.”[1]  Over the last several years, Congress has examined the failures.  Similar legislation was introduced in the 110th and the 111th Congress.[2]  The text of H.R. 899 passed in the 112th Congress as Title IV of H.R. 4078, the Red Tape Reduction and Small Business Job Creation Act.



[1] See id

[2] See H.R. 6964 introduced by Representative Foxx in the 110th and H.R. 2255 and H.R. 5818 were introduced by Representatives Foxx and Garrett respectively in the 111th.

Cost

According to CBO, “implementation of the bill would have a net discretionary cost of $1 million in 2014 and $4 million over the 2014-2018 period, subject to the availability of funds.”[1]

Amendments

1)         Rep. Cummings (D-MD) Amendment #1 – Amendment strikes section 5 of the bill, which would eliminate the current exemption from the Unfunded Mandate Reform Act for certain independent agencies.

2)         Rep. Connolly (D-VA) Amendment #5 – Amendment ensures that other impacted entities, such as public interest organizations, are provided any opportunity for consultation afforded to the private sector under the Act.

3)         Rep. Jackson Lee (D-TX) Amendment #4 – Amendment adds Section 14 to the bill to clarify that the requirements of UMRA as amended by this Act do not apply if a cost-benefit analysis demonstrates that the benefits of the regulatory action exceed its costs.

Additional Information

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