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Our economy has benefited over the last three months from a massive rollback of harmful regulations on issues ranging from energy to labor to broadband. Now we have a historic opportunity to reform the regulatory system itself so that we can cement these changes and prevent future regulatory onslaughts like the one we saw over the last eight years. This opportunity for reform was bolstered by the introduction last week of the Regulatory Accountability Act (RAA) in the Senate.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has helped lead the charge for the RAA, which would be the first significant overhaul of the regulatory process since the Truman administration. We were pleased when the House passed its version of the legislation in January. The following month we led a coalition of more than 600 business groups—including trade associations and state and local chambers—in sending a letter to Senate leaders urging them to take up the RAA.
They answered that call last week—and best of all, they did so in a bipartisan manner with Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) joining forces to introduce the Senate legislation. At its core, the bill would increase scrutiny of the most expensive rules—those exceeding $100 million in annual costs—by requiring greater transparency and accountability from the federal agencies seeking to issue them.
The RAA would do so by requiring cost-benefit analysis, creating an automatic review process, and inviting public comment on the largest and most expensive rules before they can be issued. Today, businesses have no choice but to wait until after these rules are put into place to settle problems and raise objections. Even then, their only recourse is to wage costly legal battles that can take years to be settled in the courts. The RAA would enable those impacted by regulations to offer input on the front end of the regulatory process so that issues can be settled before a rule goes into effect.
These reforms to the regulatory process would be a long awaited step toward reining in what has become an unofficial and unaccountable fourth branch of government: the federal agencies. The RAA would help lock in the significant regulatory relief of the past three months and ensure that future administrations cannot impose their will on the economy without oversight or accountability. The Chamber is proud to have helped bring the RAA this far and will continue urging all members of Congress to seize this extraordinary opportunity to spur business expansion, job creation, and dynamic economic growth.