Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Floor Statement of the Honorable John Conyers Jr. in Opposition to H.R. 3438, the “Require Evaluation before Implementing Executive Wishlists Act of 2016”

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
H.R. 3438, the “Require Evaluation before Implementing Executive Wishlists Act of 2016,” would stay the enforcement of any rule imposing an annual cost to the economy in excess of $1 billion pending judicial review.

Notwithstanding the bill’s colorful short title, H.R. 3438 would have a pernicious impact on rulemaking and the ability of agencies to respond to critical health and safety issues.

In essence, the bill would encourage anyone who wants to delay a significant rule from going into effect by simply seeking judicial review of the rule.

We all know that the judicial review process can take months, if not years to finalize, especially if the appellate process reaches the United States Supreme Court.

Thus, rather than ensuring predictability and streamlining the rulemaking process, this bill would have a completely opposite impact by making the process less predictable and more time-consuming.

Equally important, H.R. 3438 has absolutely no health or safety emergency exceptions. If anything, this bill would empower the very entities that caused a serious health or safety risk to delay –and possibly derail—legitimate efforts by regulatory agencies to respond to such threats.

And, as with other bills proposed by my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, this legislation myopically focuses only on the cost of a proposed rule, while ignoring the rule’s benefits, which often exceed its cost by many multiples.

In closing, there is broad agreement among experts in the administrative law field that our Nation’s regulatory system is already too cumbersome and slow-moving.

In addition to the Administrative Procedure Act’s procedural mechanisms – which are designed to ensure an open and fair rulemaking system -- Congress has passed various additional federal laws that impose further rulemaking requirements. 

And, rulemaking agencies must also comply with a number of Executive Orders issued over the past several decades that have created additional layers of analytical and procedural requirements.

The result of this dense web of existing requirements is a complex, time-consuming rulemaking process.

In response to the explosion of analytical requirements imposed on the rulemaking process, the American Bar Association, as well as many administrative law experts, have urged Congress to exercise restraint and assess the usefulness of existing requirements before considering sweeping legislation.

Imposing new analytical and procedural requirements on the administrative system also carries real human and economic costs.

As Robert Weissman, the President of Public Citizen, has observed, the cost of regulatory delay is “far more severe than generic inefficiency. Lengthy delay costs money and lives; it permits ongoing ecologic destruction and the infliction of needless injury; and it enables fraudsters and wrongdoers to perpetuate their misdeeds.”

Rather than alleviating these problems, H.R. 3438 would clearly exacerbate them. Accordingly, I must oppose this ill-conceived legislation.

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