Agenda for the 116th Congress: Regulatory Reform

The first chapter in the new Competitive Enterprise Institute agenda for Congress, “Free to Prosper,” is on regulatory reform. Most of the Agenda is about reforming specific regulations. It is also important to focus on the rulemaking process itself—a better game needs better rules. For Congress, that means restoring a separation of powers. For several decades now, the executive branch has been growing too powerful. This rule change has been disastrous—federal regulations now comprise more than 180,000 pages and cost about $1.9 trillion every year. Congress should restrain an out-of-control executive branch by:

  • Defunding unapproved agency initiatives, and, where applicable, using the Congressional Review Act to rein in agency overreach.
  • Improving regulatory disclosure, transparency, and cost analysis of regulations and guidance. A first step could be to implement a regulatory report card to tally regulatory costs and flows in a user-friendly way, and promote more accurate reporting to enable analysis of the regulatory enterprise by third parties.
  • Implementing a bipartisan regulatory reduction commission and regulatory sunsetting procedures.
  • Requiring votes on major rules—those with estimated annual costs of $100 million or more. One option is to enact the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act.
  • Implementing a limited regulatory cost budget.

These reforms should apply to independent agencies, not just cabinet-level agencies. They should also apply to regulatory dark matter—the notices, guidance documents, and other materials that agencies use to regulate outside of the required notice-and-comment rulemaking process.

For more, read “Free to Prosper: A Pro-Growth Agenda for the 116th Congress.”

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