H.R. 50, Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act of 2015

H.R. 50

Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act of 2015

Date
February 4, 2015 (114th Congress, 1st Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

On Wednesday, February 4, 2015, the House will consider H.R. 50, the Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act of 2015, under a rule.  H.R. 50 was introduced on January 6, 2015 by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC).

Bill Summary

H.R. 50 is identical to H.R. 899, the Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act, legislation that previously passed in the House on February 28, 2014 by a vote of 234-176.  (See Roll Call #90)

H.R. 50 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. 50 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. 50, 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]

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[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.”[4]  Over the last several years, Congress has examined the failures.  In addition to identical language passing in the 113th and 112th Congresses, similar legislation was introduced in the 110th and the 111th Congress.[5]  The text of H.R. 50 passed in the 112th Congress as Title IV of H.R. 4078, the Red Tape Reduction and Small Business Job Creation Act.

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[4] See id
[5] 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

A CBO cost estimate is currently unavailable.  However, according to a CBO cost estimate conducted for identical legislation in the 113th Congress, “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.”

A preliminary estimate conducted by the CBO for Amendment #4, offered by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), which was adopted in rules, estimated that the proposed language would reduce direct spending by an amount sufficient enough to offset the estimated increase in direct spending associated with the underlying bill.

Amendments

1)         Rep. Reed (R-NY) Amendment #2 Amendment requires an assessment of the effects that a proposed or final rule are expected to have on private property owners, including the use and value of affected property.

2)         Rep. Cummings (D-MD) Amendment #1Amendment strikes section 12 of the bill. The section requires federal agencies to conduct a retrospective cost-benefit analysis of any regulation at the request of the Chairman or Ranking Member of a Congressional Committee.

3)         Rep. Connolly (D-VA) Amendment #3Amendment provides that in the event that the average annual rate of real gross domestic product (GDP) growth remains below 5 percent over the first four calendar quarters occurring after the date of enactment of H.R. 50, then the amendments made by H.R. 50 are repealed.

Additional Information

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