Obama opposes bill to halt regulatory changes

The Barack Obama administration is opposed to a House bill that would clamp down on further regulatory changes until the economy gets better.

The Regulatory Freeze for Jobs Act (H.R. 4078) would stop all new significant federal regulations until the national unemployment rate falls to 6 percent or below. The unemployment rate has been higher than 8 percent for 41 consecutive months.

House Republican leaders combined seven bills that would either halt regulations or otherwise revamp the regulatory process into a single legislative package. Debate on the legislation began July 24.

House Speaker Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) today cited cited a recent survey that found 78 percent of small business owners say regulations have impeded their attempts to hire new workers. Further, Republicans estimate nearly $600 billion in costs for regulations finalized during the Obama administration and the more than 4,000 regulations in the pipeline, according to the Speaker’s Blog.

On the other side of the debate, Obama administration officials said the bill would undermine the existing framework for putting regulations into place. Agency officials must adhere to the set procedural requirements of federal law, including the Administrative Procedure Act, the Regulatory Flexibility Act, the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act, the Paperwork Reduction Act, and the Congressional Review Act. These require regulatory agencies to determine that the benefits justify the costs, to consider alternatives, and to promote flexibility in the rules.

To the administration, the bill would add layers of procedural burdens that interfere with agency performance of statutory mandates. It would also unnecessarily delay important public health and safety protections as well as environmental reviews. For example, the legislation would create excessively complex permitting processes that would hamper economic growth.

Administration officials also suggested excessive regulatory litigation would come as a result. They warned that they would recommend a presidential veto of the bill.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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