CEI Experts Applaud Sens. Lankford, Johnson, and Portman for Independent Regulatory Commission Legislation

This is a press statement originally posted at cei.org.

On Thursday, Senators James Lankford (R-OK), Ron Johnson (R-WI), and Rob Portman (R-OH) introduced the Pandemic Preparedness, Response, and Recovery Act. The House version was previously introduced by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC). The bill would establish an independent commission to identify regulations harming the COVID-19 response, and compile a package for Congress to vote on.

Competitive Enterprise Institute senior fellow Ryan Young thinks the commission is a good idea:

“If a regulation isn’t helping now during a pandemic, it was probably never needed in the first place. Agencies have already loosened rules for telemedicine, fast-tracked COVID treatment approval, and remote education. But the Code of Federal Regulations is still 185,000 pages long. How many of those rules are still harming the COVID-19 response? How many might make the country less resilient against the next crisis? A dedicated commission like the one in the Pandemic Preparedness, Response, and Recovery Act is a good way to find out.

“If leadership doesn’t see fit to hold a vote on the PPRRA this session, COVID-19 will still be around when the next Congress convenes in January. If necessary, the bill should be reintroduced and voted on then.”

CEI Vice President for Policy Wayne Crews said:

“The Congress has passed several Covid-19 relief packages and is contemplating more spending stimulus at this very moment. Missing from that body’s concrete actions in the coronavirus crisis has been powerful deregulatory stimulus, that is, easing or removing unnecessary rules and regulations that can both impede response to the pandemic and restrict smooth and energetic economic recovery from it.

“Federal agencies and the administration have implemented numerous waivers and suspensions with respect to the crisis as well as some explicit moves to streamline regulation and treat those subject to rules more fairly, an example of that being Trump’s executive order on Regulatory Relief to Support Economic Recover. But the executive branch is not America’s lawmaking body, and many of the steps taken need to be permanent rather than transitory. That is just the beginning; there remains a great deal more relief-oriented foundational streamlining of the Code of Federal Regulations’ content possible that utterly depends upon the intense attention of Congress to come to fruition.

“It is up to Congress has to reassert its primary legislative role and act to reduce regulation, as this juncture ideally can do that via a bipartisan ‘regulatory improvement commission,’ an idea is rooted in bipartisan discussions stretching back over several Congresses.

“The new Pandemic Preparedness, Response, and Recovery Act is a logical, sensible, fair and humane approach to dealing with crisis. Under the Act, a bipartisan commission would prepare recommendations for regulatory streamlining, and those would be improved upon by public notice and comment. The resultant report would be issued to Congress, which would have the ability to say yes or no to this new vehicle uniquely expressing an aspect of the will of the people that too often gets neglected. While the regulatory code grows with little relief, the Pandemic Preparedness, Response, and Recovery Act provides a way of disciplining it for the public good, and health.”

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