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Minor bureaucrats would lose power to regulate in new bipartisan bill

The U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. (Dreamstime/TNS)
January 24, 2023

A new bill, backed by Republican and Democrat lawmakers, would restrain unelected federal government employees from being able to decide new regulations.

The bill, called the “Ensuring Accountability in Agency Rulemaking Act,” would require any rules and regulations imposed by regulatory agencies to be signed off and issued by an individual appointed by the President and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Ben Cline (R-VA), and co-sponsored by Rep. Jared Golden (D-ME), Rep. Mary Miller (R-IL), Rep. Mark Green (R-TN), Rep. Andrew Ogles (R-TN) and Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA).

This rule would, in effect, place the responsibility for all regulations with the head of any federal department or agency and prevent any unelected subordinates from imposing their own rules and regulations.

The bill contains some small exceptions, stipulating that the head of a federal agency may circumvent the regulation if he “determines, on a nondelegable basis that compliance with the relevant paragraph would impede public safety or security.” The head of that agency would have to submit to an administrator, the reason for the exemption and then publish that reason in a notice in the federal registrar.

“Good governance begins with accountability, and nowhere is this needed more than in our Federal bureaucracy,” the bill’s supporters said in a press statement.

“Compliance with constitutional rulemaking requirements has been inconsistent,” the press statement reads. “This undermines accountability and opens agencies up to legal challenges because of improperly issued rules, which also provides uncertainty for individuals and business owners.”

The press statement made an example of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to explain the expansion of federal rulemaking.

“According to a recent study, the Department of Health and Human Services’ rulemaking practices from 2001 to 2017 revealed that 1,860 FDA final rules (98% of the total) had been issued illegally and that other agencies had similar problems,” the press statement read.

Cline told Fox News that too many regulations are released by minor agency officials. He said this multitude of minor regulations end up costing about 10 percent of America’s gross domestic product per year.