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H.R. 26: Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act of 2017

H.R. 26 amends the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to require congressional approval of major agency regulations before those regulations can go into effect.

Specifically, the bill requires Congress to pass, and the President to sign, a joint resolution approving a new major regulation issued by a regulatory agency before the regulation may take effect, instead of requiring Congress to disapprove of such regulations. Major regulations are those that produce $100 million or more in impacts on the U.S. economy, spur major increases in costs or prices for consumers, or have certain other significant adverse effects on the economy.[1] For non-major rules, H.R. 26 continues the current process of allowing the rule to take effect unless Congress passes and the President signs a resolution of disapproval, or Congress overrides a presidential veto of such a disapproval resolution.

For all new regulations—both major and non-major—the promulgating agency must submit to Congress and the Comptroller General a report including a copy of the rule, a statement regarding the rule, its classification as major or non-major, other related regulatory actions intended to implement the same statutory provision or regulatory objective and their aggregate economic impact, and its proposed effective date.

On the date of that report’s submission, the promulgating agency also must provide other relevant material to Congress and the Comptroller General, including a cost-benefit analysis of the rule. For major rules, the Comptroller General must, within 15 calendar days of receiving the initial report, provide to the congressional committees of jurisdiction a report assessing the agency’s compliance with procedural steps required by the bill and whether the rule imposes any new limits or mandates on the private sector.

For major regulations, H.R. 26 establishes specific time constraints within which a joint resolution of approval must be introduced, considered by the relevant committees of jurisdiction, and brought before the full House and Senate for a vote. In general, H.R. 26 prevents major regulations from taking effect unless Congress passes and the President signs a joint resolution of approval within 70 legislative days of the initial report received by Congress. H.R. 26 limits the permissible content of a joint resolution of approval for a major regulation.

H.R. 26 also provides a presidential exception, allowing a major rule to take effect for one 90-calendar-day period if the President issues an executive order declaring that the rule is needed: because of an imminent threat to health or safety or other emergency; to enforce criminal laws; for national security; or to implement an international trade agreement.

When a non-major rule is promulgated, H.R. 26 provides that each congressional body has 60 legislative days to introduce a joint resolution of disapproval. H.R. 26 specifies the permissible content of the joint resolution of disapproval for a non-major regulation. Non-major rules take effect after the report is submitted to Congress, unless a joint resolution of disapproval is passed by each house of Congress and signed by the President, or Congress overrides a presidential veto of the disapproval resolution.

The bill defines “major rule” as one that results in or is likely to result in: an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more; a major increase in costs or prices for consumers, individual industries, federal, State, or local government agencies, or geographic regions; or significant adverse effects on competition, employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or on the ability of United States-based enterprises to compete with foreign-based enterprises in domestic and export markets.

The bill defines “non-major rule” as any rule that is not a major rule.

Last updated Mar 15, 2017. Source: Republican Policy Committee

The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Jan 5, 2017.


Regulations From the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act of 2017

(Sec. 2) This bill states that its purpose is to increase accountability for and transparency in the federal regulatory process by requiring Congress to approve all new major regulations.

(Sec. 3) The bill revises provisions relating to congressional review of agency rulemaking to require federal agencies promulgating rules to: (1) identify and repeal or amend existing rules to completely offset any annual costs of new rules to the U.S. economy; and (2) publish information about the rules in the Federal Register and include in their reports to Congress and to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) a classification of the rules as major or nonmajor rules and a complete copy of the cost-benefit analysis of the rules, including an analysis of any jobs added or lost, differentiating between public and private sector jobs. A "major rule" is any rule that the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs of the Office of Management and Budget finds has resulted in or is likely to result in: (1) an annual cost on the economy of $100 million or more (adjusted annually for inflation); (2) a major increase in costs or prices for consumers, individual industries, federal, state, or local government agencies, or geographic regions; or (3) significant adverse effects on competition, employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or the ability of U.S.-based enterprises to compete with foreign-based enterprises.

A joint resolution of approval of major rules must be enacted before such rules may take effect (currently, major rules take effect unless a joint resolution disapproving them is enacted). If a joint resolution of approval is not enacted by the end of 70 session days or legislative days, as applicable, after the agency proposing the rule submits its report on such rule to Congress, the major rule shall be deemed not to be approved and shall not take effect. The bill permits a major rule to take effect for one 90-calendar day period without such approval if the President determines it is necessary because of an imminent threat to health or safety or other emergency, for the enforcement of criminal laws, for national security, or to implement an international trade agreement.

The bill sets forth the congressional approval procedure for major rules and the congressional disapproval procedure for nonmajor rules. Agencies are prohibited from allowing a major rule to take effect without the congressional review procedures set forth in this bill.

A joint resolution addressing a report classifying a rule must be introduced as a major rule within three legislative days in the House of Representative and three session days in the Senate. The bill: (1) prohibits any amendments to such a joint resolution at any stage of the legislative process; (2) provides for expedited consideration of a joint resolution of approval; and (3) requires a vote on such resolution in the Senate within 15 session days after it is reported by the committee to which it was referred, or after such committee has been discharged from further consideration of the resolution.

A court may review whether an agency has completed the necessary requirements under this bill for a rule to take effect (currently, no judicial review of a determination, finding, action, or omission in the rulemaking process is subject to judicial review). The bill limits the effect of a joint resolution of approval of a major rule.

The bill is inapplicable to rules that concern monetary policy proposed or implemented by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System or the Federal Open Market Committee.

Any rule promulgated by a federal agency that relates to a regulatory program for a commercial, recreational, or subsistence activity related to hunting, fishing, or camping, or any rule other than a major rule for which an agency for good cause finds that notice and public procedure thereon are impracticable, unnecessary, or contrary to the public interest, shall take effect at such time as the agency determines.

Before new rules take effect, agencies must amend or repeal other rules to offset any annual costs of the new rules to the U.S. economy.

Over a 10-year period, agencies must submit reports designating for congressional review all agency rules that are in effect as of one year after enactment of this bill. If Congress does not enact a joint resolution of approval for such rules, the rules shall not continue in effect.

(Sec. 4) The Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985 is amended to provide that any congressional approval procedure set forth in this bill affecting budget authority, outlays, or receipts shall be assumed to be effective unless it is not approved in accordance with this bill.

(Sec. 5) The GAO must conduct a study to determine as of the date of enactment of this bill: (1) how many rules were in effect, (2) how many major rules were in effect, and (3) the total estimated economic cost imposed by all such rules. The GAO must report to Congress on such study within one year of the enactment of this bill.