Thursday, July 7, 2016

Statement of the Honorable John Conyers, Jr. for the Hearing on “Assessing the Obama Years: OIRA and Regulatory Impacts on Jobs, Wages Economic Recovery” Before the Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs plays a central role in reviewing regulations issued by Executive Branch agencies as well as working to improve the process and quality of federal rulemakings.
It has been 3 years since Administrator Shelanksi was appointed to head OIRA. Accordingly, I would very much appreciate hearing his thoughts on the current state of affairs with respect federal rulemakings and whether any legislative fixes are needed.
For example, some of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle are convinced that our Nation’s regulatory system is severely broken and in need of repair.

To that end, they support a series of anti-regulatory measures, many of which would impose numerous procedural burdens on federal agencies and their ability to protect public safety and health, and the environment.

Other anti-regulatory measures would upend the rulemaking process through unnecessary and costly litigation challenges.

For example, H.R. 4768, the “Separation of Powers Restoration Act of 2016,” which is likely to be considered on the floor later this month, would require federal courts to review all agency rulemakings and interpretations of statutes on a de novo basis, resulting in regulatory paralysis and undermining public health and safety.

From my perspective, measures such as H.R. 4768 simply do not make sense. But, I would appreciate the witnesses’ thoughts on such legislation.

And, I want to know what the Administration has been doing to make the regulatory process more efficient without congressional intervention.

I believe all of us on this Subcommittee can agree that good regulations are necessary to protect public health and safety. And, we would agree that agencies should periodically assess whether their regulations are accomplishing their intended goals and whether they are unnecessarily burdensome.

This is why the Obama Administration has demonstrated a remarkable ability to balance the Government’s obligation to protect the health, welfare, and safety of Americans with the need to foster economic growth. 

The Administration has issued a series of executive orders intended to ensure smart regulation.

These include directives requiring meaningful retrospective reviews of regulations that are already on the books and by ensuring greater public participation on proposed rules.

I would like the witnesses today to discuss whether these executive orders have been effective.

Finally, I want to hear from Administrator Shelanski as well as from the other witnesses about whether there are further improvements OIRA should consider.

For example, Public Citizen reported last month that delays in the rulemaking process are at record lengths. According to this report, agencies take nearly 4 years to finalize economically significant regulations, nearly an entire presidential term. 

And, in recent years, the average period of time that a regulation is under review at OIRA is much higher than any time prior to 2012.

In addition, some suggest that OIRA’s review process should be more transparent and accountable to all stakeholders.
Given the stature and experience of the witnesses on both panels, I am optimistic that they will have some pragmatic and meaningful recommendations for reform.

Accordingly, I look forward to hearing the testimony from today’s witnesses and I thank Chairman Marino for holding this important hearing.

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