Congressman Kevin Cramer

Representing North Dakota, At Large

CRAMER: House Passes More Regulatory Reform Legislation

Mar 2, 2017
Press Release

Listen to Audio Statement on EAJA Here

Listen to Audio Statement on SCRUB Act Here

Listen to Audio Statement on OSH Act Here

Listen to Audio Statement on H.R. 1009 Here

Listen to Audio Statement on H.R. 1004 Here

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Kevin Cramer supported legislation passed by the House this week that encourages greater regulatory reform through all federal agencies.

The bills include:

H.R. 1033, the Open Book on Equal Access to Justice Act, brings greater transparency to a law providing relief to veterans, retirees and small businesses seeking redress against the government.  The Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA) requires federal agencies to reimburse plaintiffs for legal fees incurred through suits in which the agency pursued an unjustified position. H.R. 1033 requires the Administrative Conference of the United States to maintain an online database making EAJA data from every federal agency available to the public and to Congress.

“As hard as it is to believe, since 1995, federal agencies have not been required to keep records of EAJA reimbursements or the legal justifications behind them,” said Cramer. “This means the public has no access to what agencies are paying out and whether the payments are justified. This common-sense legislation bringing greater transparency to these government records is long overdue.”

H.R. 998, the Searching for and Cutting Regulations that are Unnecessarily Burdensome or SCRUB Act, establishes a nine-member commission to independently assess which regulations are outdated or unnecessarily burdensome. It requires agencies to disclose actions about their pending rules, along with their public communications about those rules, and prohibits them from using those communications to lobby the public for support of their rules.

“As this Congress continues to make regulatory reform a top priority, the SCRUB Act gives us more tools to ensure agencies identify unnecessary regulations and do not improperly lobby the public to support them,” said Cramer.

H.J. Res 83: Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act), employers are required to record and maintain a log of workplace injuries and illnesses that occur during a five-year span. While OSHA inspectors have long used this information to enhance health and safety protections in America’s jobsites, the law explicitly says that employers can only be cited for record-keeping violations within a six-month time period. During the waning days of the Obama administration, OSHA rewrote the law through regulatory fiat. The agency finalized the “Volks” rule, which extends the threat of penalty up to five years. Two federal appeals courts have rejected the very policies reflected in the rule after a Louisiana construction company was cited for paperwork errors occurring nearly five years prior. H.J. Res. 83 would block this regulation from taking effect.

“This was an unlawful power grab by a government agency, taking away from Congress its authority to write laws,” said Cramer.  “This regulation does nothing to improve worker health and safety and has created regulatory confusion for small businesses.”

H.R. 1009, the OIRA Insight, Reform and Accountability Act, strengthens Congressional insight and accountability by putting into statute the regulatory review authority of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA).

The Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980 created OIRA within the Office of Management and Budget. In 1981, President Reagan used an executive order to give OIRA the responsibility to review agency regulatory actions before finalization. President Clinton issued an executive order in 1993 outlining the process under which OIRA currently reviews regulations. Although OIRA has the responsibility to review “significant” rules, those having an impact of $100 million or more on the economy, it does not do so unless an agency proactively submits them. It also allows agencies to determine themselves whether their rule is considered significant.

“This bill puts into statute the original purpose of the OIRA and place it under Congressional oversight,” said Cramer. “This reaffirms Congressional authority over the regulatory process, where it belongs.”

H.R. 1004, the Regulatory Integrity Act of 2017, directs each federal agency to make information regarding their regulatory actions publicly available in a searchable format on Regulations.gov, or the agency’s website.

Information would include the date a regulation was considered, its current status, an estimate of when the regulation would be final, and a brief description of the regulation. In addition, agencies would be required to track the details of all public communications about pending regulatory actions. It includes language similar to H.R. 998, prohibiting agencies from lobbying or campaigning in support of proposed rules, and establishes clear standards of what that type of activity would include.

“Greater transparency to a federal agency’s regulatory process will increase awareness of what is being proposed and how it affects ordinary Americans,” said Cramer.  “This common-sense bill uses existing technology to better inform citizens about how proposed regulations will impact them.”