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May 22, 2017

U.S. Senate Committee Passes MSCI-Supported Regulatory Accountability Act

Last Wednesday, the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee passed S. 951, the Regulatory Accountability Act (RAA) of 2017 on a party line, nine to five, vote. The bill will now advance to the Senate floor. (The chamber’s leadership, however, has not yet indicated when they plan to hold a vote on the bill.) 

The sole focus of the RAA is to make sure that, for the most costly regulations, federal executive branch agencies take the time to implement Congressional intent, not the intent of the agency. The RAA achieves this by requiring that federal agencies invest more effort earlier in the rulemaking process to gather data, evaluate alternatives, and receive public input about the costs and benefits of its rules. In short, the bill allows Congress and the public to reassert control over the federal regulatory bureaucracy by holding agencies more accountable for their decisions, and allowing for regulations that are better-tailored to achieve their purpose without unnecessary burdens on stakeholders. 

In February, the Metals Service Center Institute (MSCI) and more than 600 other trade associations and business groups representing all 50 states sent a letter to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) asking them to quickly consider and pass the RAA. That letter, available here, said the RAA “builds on established principles of fair regulatory process and review that have been embodied in bipartisan executive orders dating to at least the Clinton administration” and also “stands for good governance and getting rules right by bringing transparency, accountability, and integrity to the rulemaking process at federal agencies.” The letter also argued that “federal regulations should be narrowly tailored, supported by strong and credible data and evidence, and impose the least burden possible, while implementing congressional intent.” 

The U.S. House passed its version of the RAA (H.R. 5) on a 238 to 183 vote in January. Before House passage, MSCI and its allies sent a letter to leaders in the U.S. House asking for quick action on the RAA.