Senate Homeland Security Committee Approves Five Regulatory Reform Bills

May 17, 2017 – The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved five regulatory reform bills clearing the way for the bills to be considered by the full Senate. S. 951, the Regulatory Accountability Act, requires, among other things, that federal agencies consider reasonable alternatives to the most expensive rules, with three alternatives presumed to be a reasonable number for consideration, and to select the most cost-effective rule unless the agency provides a detailed explanation of why it selected a less cost-effective rule. This Committee approved this bill by a vote of nine to five. A different version of the Regulatory Accountability Act (H.R. 5) has already passed the House.  S. 21, the REINS Act, which requires Congressional approval of major rules, passed by a party-line vote of eight to six. The House companion to the REINS Act (H.R. 26) was passed in January.  S. 34, the Midnight Rules Relief Act, would amend the Congressional Review Act to allow Congress, through a joint resolution of disapproval, to overturn multiple “midnight rules” – those promulgated in the final days of a Presidential administration – at once. Under the amended law, the new President must sign off on any such joint resolution of disapproval; if s/he vetoes a resolution, Congress could override the veto with a two-thirds vote by the House and Senate. This bill also passed along party lines by a vote of eight to six. The House version of this bill, H.R. 21, was passed in January. Also passed along party lines (eight to six) was S. 584, the Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act, which requires federal agencies to analyze indirect economic effects of proposed rules on small businesses even if the business is not directly regulated by the rule. The House has not taken action on its companion to this bill, H.R. 33, but did approve the provisions of it as part of H.R. 5 (the Regulatory Accountability Act). Finally, S. 579, the Early Participation in Regulations Act, which would amend the Administrative Procedure Act to impose a mandate requiring all agencies to conduct an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, including specified analyses, for all pending major rules, passed by a vote of 11 to three.