Hatch Pushes to Reform Federal Regulations

Lawmakers set their sights on reforming the federal regulatory process during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing titled, “Examining the Federal Regulatory System to Improve Accountability, Transparency, and Integrity.” 

Senator Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, a member and former Chairman of the Committee, used the opportunity to discuss his agenda that would take on costly regulatory burdens and ensure bureaucratic accountability.

Senator Hatch explained that the first part of the agenda addresses the unjustified costs imposed by regulations. “Too much regulation—especially too much outdated regulation—means higher prices, smaller paychecks, and fewer jobs for hardworking Americans,” Senator Hatch said. “Every President since Jimmy Carter has agreed on the need to review our existing regulations to make sure that they are efficient and are no more intrusive and burdensome than is absolutely necessary. Nevertheless, the regulatory burden keeps growing year after year. To turn this longstanding bipartisan priority into a reality, we need to take the responsibility of reviewing old rules away from the bureaucrats who keep failing at that task. That’s why I’m going to introduce the SCRUB Act, which uses the successful model of the independent BRAC commission and applies it to our existing regulatory burden.”

According to the Competitive Enterprise Institute, federal regulations today impose a burden of $1.88 trillion dollars on the economy. That figure equates to roughly $15,000 per household and more than corporate and individual income taxes combined. The Code of Federal Regulations is now more than 175,000 pages long and contains more than 200 volumes. And according to a study by the American Action Forum, the Obama administration’s efforts to review existing regulations resulted in the addition of more than $23 billion dollars in costs on the economy and nearly 9 million hours of paperwork.

The second part of the Senator’s approach focuses on restoring accountability to the rulemaking process. “Given the broad authority vested in the bureaucracy, the courts often stand as the only true independent check on increasingly out-of-control regulators,” Senator Hatch said. “Unfortunately, this accountability is severely limited by excessive judicial deference to federal bureaucrats and an environment in which businesses with real skin in the game are often shut out of court while special interest groups with no particular injury are allowed to litigate.” 

Sen. Hatch also articulated his vision of how to fix the problems posed by an unchecked bureaucracy. “In reviewing agency actions, courts should hear only real cases and controversies, in which litigants have concrete interests at stake. But when courts do rule, they should say firmly what the law is, and not simply ratify what the regulatory agencies say that the law should be. Restoring this constitutionally proper judicial role is vital to returning accountability to the regulatory process. I’m committed to introducing legislation soon to ensure meaningful reform on these fronts.”

Senator Hatch has played a key role in every major regulatory reform effort over the past 38 years, including as an original cosponsor of the 1981 Regulatory Reform Act and as an author of the 1995 Comprehensive Regulatory Reform Act while serving as Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.