Speaker Ryan Unveils Regulatory Reform Agenda

As part of a broader Republican policy agenda before the November elections, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) unveiled a regulatory reform agenda that outlines a number of policy proposals aimed at reining in federal regulations and giving Congress more power over regulators and authority to approve or reject major rules.

Chief among the reforms, Speaker Ryan proposed a first-ever annual regulatory budget that would place limits on the amount of regulatory costs federal agencies can impose each year. Speaker Ryan also called for reinstating the traditional joint employer standard and faulted the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) for providing “only a 60-day comment period” before finalizing its overtime rule. 

“What federal agencies need more than anything else is some humility,” Speaker Ryan said. He acknowledged that some regulations can provide “clear, firm rules that all Americans can live by,” but said that “bad or unnecessary regulations can slow the economy down significantly, and the evidence suggests red tape is holding back recovery.”

A link to the full report is here. 

Because agencies often are able to impose new regulations without sufficient opportunity for public input, Speaker Ryan calls this a “major drawback in the federal regulatory system.”  Specifically, the report states that “When it comes to new major regulations intended to tackle complex problems and impose high levels of direct and indirect costs, 30 or 60 days is not enough time for public comment to be meaningful.” 

Although these proposals are unlikely to pass during this legislative cycle, they do lay down a marker on how the Republican Majority, if re-elected, would govern in the 115th Congressional session.  

With a focus on eliminating costly and outdated regulations, the plan also encompasses various House-passed pieces of legislation that would give Congress the final say over major regulations.  For example, The Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act, which would require Congress to approve major regulations (those with an economic effect of $100 million or more) before they could take effect, passed the House last summer but stalled in the Senate amid the President’s veto threat of the bill. 

Additionally, the plan recommends a “spring cleaning” at federal agencies, stating that “the agencies themselves have shown little interest in revisiting their past regulations and thinning out those that have proven to be ineffective, outdated, or unnecessarily expensive.”  To achieve this goal, Speaker Ryan calls for the creation of an independent commission charged with reviewing and eliminating outdated regulations, as contained in The Searching for and Cutting Regulations That Are Unnecessarily Burdensome (SCRUB) Act, which like the REINS Act, passed the House last year but stalled in the Senate amid another veto threat by President Obama.


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Shannon Meade

Shannon Meade implements NATSO's legislative and political agenda in Washington, D.C. She also directs NATSO's political engagement efforts.
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