House Passes Regulatory Reform Legislation

December 02, 2011

Responding to concerns that over-regulation is stifling the growth of U.S. jobs, the House is moving various HR Policy-supported bills this week and next to impose new restrictions on federal agencies.  Earlier this week, the House passed, with a bipartisan vote of 263 to 159, the Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act of 2011 (H.R. 527), which would strengthen the existing Regulatory Flexibility Act by expanding the elements that are required in an agency's regulatory flexibility analysis to include estimates of the cumulative economic impact of the proposed rule on businesses.  Despite its own regulatory reform initiatives, the Obama Administration vowed to veto the bill, stating it “would impose unnecessary new procedures on agencies and invite frivolous litigation” and “replace the existing framework with layers of additional procedural requirements that would seriously undermine the ability of agencies to execute their statutory mandates.”  Today, the House is expected to pass the Regulatory Accountability Act of 2011 (H.R. 3010), which would increase the considerations a federal agency would have to undertake prior to issuing a rule, including any reasonable alternatives for the rule, and the potential costs and benefits associated with those alternatives.  Next week, the House will consider the Regulations From the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act of 2011 (H.R. 10), which would require congressional approval of any “major rules,” which the bill would define as requirements that have at least a $100 million impact on the economy or that have “significant adverse effects on competition, employment, investment” or other economic issues.  Under current law, Congress can vote to block rules, which otherwise take effect as scheduled.  All these bills, which HR Policy has supported in a letter to Congress, are consistent with the Association’s view that it is critical that the current web of complex workplace regulations and new rules be closely examined to determine if they impose unnecessary burdens or costs on employers, thus stifling job creation.  The legislation will now move over to the Senate where, despite bipartisan support in the House, action appears unlikely.