Justice Department Urges Congress to Rewrite Regulatory Policy

By | August 12, 2020

The U.S. Justice Department on Tuesday urged Congress to revise a 74-year-law that is central to how the government sets regulatory policy.

Deputy Attorney General Jeff Rosen told Reuters the department wanted to work with Congress to modernize the 1946 Administrative Procedure Act (APA), adding the law “no longer reflects how the regulatory process actually works.”

Rosen wants Congress to enshrine some existing practices into law, adopt new transparency measures and take steps to improve the economic efficiency of regulations.

“The big important thing is for Congress to take this up,” Rosen said.

In a report on Tuesday, the Justice Department argued the need for reform was urgent “as the regulatory state has grown ever larger.”

It cited studies estimating “the aggregate total cost of federal regulations to fall between $1.75 and $2 trillion per year.”

White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) Administrator Paul Ray said in a statement the report will aid in the dialog “about how to make the American administrative system less burdensome.”

Congress is unlikely to reform the regulatory process before the November presidential election.

Rosen at a summit in December noted that between 1995 and 2017, agencies issued 92,000 rules, compared to 4,400 new laws by Congress.

“In short, for decades, every administration has recognized that we need a better regulatory process,” he said.

President Donald Trump has made deregulation a key part of his agenda, arguing it boosts economic growth, while critics say he has not done enough to protect health, safety and the environment. Democrats have opposed the rollback of many regulations under Trump.

In some cases, courts have halted actions by the Trump administration for not following APA requirements.

In June, the Supreme Court blocked Trump’s bid to end a program that protects from deportation hundreds of thousands of immigrants, The administration’s actions, the justices ruled, were “arbitrary and capricious” under the APA.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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