Warner, Portman, and Collins Bill to Provide Regulatory Relief for Businesses and Workers Advances in the Senate

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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), and Mark Warner (D-Va.)  today announced that their bipartisan legislation requiring independent agencies to analyze the costs and benefits of new regulations and tailor new rules to minimize unnecessary burdens on the economy has passed out of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Portman and Warner are the co-authors of this legislation and Collins is an original cosponsor.

“Right now, independent agencies are not required to examine the costs and benefits of their regulations on our economy before adopting them. This bipartisan bill would change that requirement and subject these independent agencies to the common sense review processes that currently applies to all other agencies,” said Collins. “Today’s advancement of this important reform is an important step in our effort help to alleviate the burdensome regulations that are too often imposed on small businesses in Maine and across our country.”

“Despite exercising vast power over major sectors of our economy, independent agencies are exempt from commonsense requirements including analysis over how new regulations will impact jobs and the economy,” Portman stated. “Our bill fixes that by authorizing the president to bring them within the same regulatory review framework that applies to other agencies. I’m pleased that our bipartisan reforms to promote economic growth and job creation have advanced in the Senate and I will continue to work to get it over the finish line.”

“It’s important that the federal government strike an appropriate balance between ensuring vital public safeguards and imposing costly regulatory burdens,” said Warner.  “This bipartisan legislation will help to ensure that, when agencies advance major regulations, they have a firm understanding about the costs and potential economic impact.”

“SBE Council is pleased to support S. 1607, which will require all agencies to analyze and publish important analysis, such as a cost-benefit analysis, private sector impact, and least burdensome approach regarding the regulations they intend to promulgate.,” said Karen Kerrigan, President and CEO of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council. “Such transparency and preliminary examination are especially critical to small businesses, which are disproportionately impacted by costly and excessive regulation.”

“The Independent Agency Regulatory Analysis Act of 2015, introduced by Senators Rob Portman, Mark Warner, and Susan Collins, would establish a mechanism for improving the quality of regulations promulgated by independent regulatory agencies such as the National Labor Relations Board, the Federal Communications Commission, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Consumer Product Safety Commission,” said Rosario Palmieri, Vice President of Infrastructure, Legal and Regulatory Policy at the National Association of Manufacturers.

“The National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) strongly supports regulatory reform legislation the committee will consider on October 7, 2015,” said Lindy Ryan, Chairman of the National Roofing Contractors Association. “This package of reforms will reduce the burden of excessive regulations on job creators and the U.S. economy. NRCA commends you for your leadership on this important issue and remains committed to working with Congress on a bipartisan basis to achieve true regulatory reform.”

For 30 years, presidents of both parties have required agencies to scrutinize the costs and benefits of major new regulations, but this process has always exempted independent agencies, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the National Labor Relations Board, and the Federal Communications Commission, among others. The Portman-Warner bill would fill that gap by authorizing the president to bring independent agencies into the same analysis and review process that governs other regulators.  

The need for this reform is obvious.  According to government records, out of the 18 major final rules issued by independent agencies in 2013, not one was based on a complete, quantified cost-benefit analysis.  The same was true in 2012— 18 major rules, zero with a complete cost-benefit analysis.  The figure was 17 and zero in both 2011 and 2010.

There is broad support for this reform proposal.  The bill has been endorsed by legal scholars, and former heads and senior officials of independent regulatory agencies. It has also been endorsed by the American Bar Association and the National Federation of Independent Business.

A summary of the Portman-Warner-Collins legislation can be found here and the bill text can be found here