Lauren Saunders’ Letter to Oppose H.R. 5 the Regulatory Accountability Act of 2017

January 10, 2017

Dear Representative:

The National Consumer Law Center® (NCLC®), on behalf of its low income clients, strongly opposes H.R. 5, the Regulatory Accountability Act of 2017 (RAA), which will be voted on this week. Since 1969, the nonprofit NCLC has worked for consumer justice and economic security for low-income and other disadvantaged people, including older adults, in the U.S. through its expertise in policy analysis and advocacy, publications, litigation, expert witness services, and training.

H.R. 5 is a compilation of radical and harmful legislative proposals that will permanently cripple Congress’ ability to protect the public. The bill rigs the system against new safeguards in favor paralysis and elimination of important protections. The bill is just as dangerous and extreme as the REINS Act (H.R. 26) and the Midnight Rules Relief Act (H.R. 21), which we also oppose.

All of these bills are designed to make it as difficult as possible for federal agencies to implement existing or new laws to protect the public from dangerous financial products, pollutants in our air and water, hazards in the workplace, tainted food and drugs, or unsafe toys and consumer goods. On the other hand, deregulatory actions that repeal existing protections are exempt by virtue of the legislation’s myopic focus on “costs” to corporate special interests instead of “benefits” to the public. In short, the legislation will create a double standard in our system that favors industry calls for deregulation over new public protections, “fast-tracking” the repeal of rules while paralyzing the creation of new ones.

The new version of the RAA, introduced in this Congress, takes the previous RAA legislation and folds in several destructive pieces of other so-called regulatory reform bills including: the misnamed Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Act, the Require Evaluation before Implementing Executive Wishlists Act (REVIEW Act), the All Economic Regulations are Transparent Act (ALERT Act), the Separation of Powers Restoration Act and the Providing Accountability Through Transparency Act. These pieces of other bills seek to worsen an already destructive bill and add several more corrosive layers seeking to dismantle our public protections. The current rulemaking process is already plagued with lengthy delays, undue influence by regulated industries, and convoluted court challenges.

Title I of this bill would make each of these problems substantially worse. It adds 74 new bureaucratic analytical requirements to the Administrative Procedure Act and requires federal agencies to conduct estimates of all the “indirect” costs and benefits of proposed rules and all potential alternatives without providing any definition of what constitutes, or more importantly, does not constitute an indirect cost. The legislation would significantly increase the demands on already constrained agency resources to produce the analyses and findings that would be required to finalize any new rule. Thus, the RAA is designed to further obstruct and delay rulemaking rather than improve the regulatory process.

This legislation creates even more hoops for “major” or “high-impact” rules – i.e., rules that provide society with the largest health and safety benefits. It would allow any interested person to petition the agency to hold a public hearing on any “genuinely disputed” scientific or factual conclusions underlying the proposed rule. This provision would give regulated industries multiple opportunities to challenge agency data and science and thus further stretch out the already lengthy rulemaking process.

H.R. 5 would also create a restrictive mandate of a “one-size-fits-all” presumption that every federal agency adopt the “least costly” alternative. This is a profound change the prevents agencies from adopting the most effective and appropriate way of protecting the public.

Title II of H.R. 5 is the Separation of Powers Restoration Act piece which seeks to destroy the Chevron deference principal. It would remove the judicial deference that agencies are granted when their regulations are challenged in court. This would be a radical change that upends one of the fundamental principles in administrative law, namely that courts should not second-guess agency expertise. Overly intrusive judicial review is one of the primary reasons for regulatory delay and paralysis and this legislation would make those problems much worse.

The misnamed Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act piece of H.R. 5 (Title III) is a Trojan horse that would expand the reach and scope of regulatory review panels, increase unnecessary regulatory delays, increase undue influence by regulated industries and encourage convoluted court challenges -all in the name of helping “small business,” but so expansively applied that mostly big businesses would benefit. Because the bill mandates that these panels look at ‘indirect costs,’ which are defined very broadly, it could be applied to virtually any agency action to develop public protections.

The REVIEW Act segment of H.R. 5 (Title IV) would make our system of regulatory safeguards weaker by requiring courts reviewing “high-impact” regulations to automatically “stay” or block the enforcement of such regulations until all litigation is resolved, a process that takes many years to complete. It would add several years of delay to an already glacially slow rulemaking process, invite more rather than less litigation, and rob the American people of many critical upgrades to science-based public protections, especially those that ensure clean air and water, safe food and consumer products, safe workplaces, and a stable, prosperous economy.

The ALERT Act portion of H.R. 5 (Title V) is designed to impede the government’s ability to implement critical new public health and safety protections by adding a six-month delay. This amounts to a six-month regulatory moratorium, even after the often lengthy period required for developing and finalizing these regulations. Such delays could extend well beyond that initial six-month period should the OIRA Administrator fail to post the required information in a timely manner.

This new version of the RAA would override and threaten decades of public protections. The innocuous-sounding act is, in reality, the biggest threat to financial reform regulations, environmental standards, workplace safety rules and public health to appear in decades.

We strongly urge opposition to H.R. 5, the Regulatory Accountability Act of 2017.

Sincerely,

saunderssig

Lauren Saunders
Associate Director

No Author Biography has been linked to this Article.

Related Articles

M Joseph Photo 2-1-22
July 23, 2023
Social media and internet dating sites have given rise to romance and confidence schemes.  Catfishing and spear phishing are extensively used.  Catfishing is faking an identity on the internet. Spear phishing uses more sophisticated and direct messages to trick the victim. New AI programs make it easier to reach and victimize the targets. The fraudsters prey upon the elderly, widowed...
Members
April 26, 2020
By Joseph A. Bledsoe, III, Chapter 13 Standing Trustee for the Eastern District of North Carolina (New Bern) Under section 1113(b)(1)(C) of the CARES Act, upon the request of a debtor, and after notice and a hearing, a plan confirmed may be extended up to 7 years from the date the first payment under the original plan came due if...
Members
moran_cathy
June 11, 2023
Hands up everyone who has encountered a claim that a debt is non-dischargeable by reason of § 523(a)(14). That’s what I thought: nada, or next thing to it. Despite watching for it, I hadn’t seen one ‘til this year when AmEx filed an adversary in a case in which I was peripherally involved. My copy of Collier’s code doesn’t comment...
Members
NBR cropped 2
May 15, 2022
Dear Readers: There are some basic truths. One is that when someone says, “hey, watch this!,” the result is likely to involve blood or stitches. Another is that, when an author describes something with the leadoff word, “interestingly,” it often isn’t. And a third is that one shouldn’t mislead bankruptcy judges. In two wonderfully written cases, bankruptcy judges made this...
Members
ahern_larry_regular
September 18, 2022
Introduction In In re Village Apothecary, Inc.,1 the Sixth Circuit last month reduced an attorney's fees by half, where the professional's services were not "successful." The results obtained (or, actually, the lack of results) justified cutting the fees of attorneys for a Chapter 7 trustee by 50%. Why It Matters to Chapter 13 People This analysis of the implications of...
Members
July 7, 2019
By Robert B. Branson and Tammy Branson, Branson Law PLLC (Orlando, FL) On June 10, 2019, Chief Judge Michael Williamson entered Administrative Order 2019-1 Prescribing Procedures for Student Loan Modification Program “SLP” in the Middle District of Florida, which goes into effect August 1, 2019. The SLP Program was a district-wide effort created with input from all three divisions of...
Members
November 15, 2020
Lawrence R. Ahern, III Brown & Ahern Nashville, Tennessee Appendix A Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure Amendments Effective December 1, 2020 The proposed rules and Committee notes are set forth below, with changes indicated by striking through deleted text and underlining new text. Rule 2002. Notices to Creditors, Equity Security Holders, Administrators in Foreign Proceedings, Persons Against Whom Provisional Relief...
Members
beskin
October 22, 2023
Upon this auspicious occasion, seeing before us this eloquence of attorneys, let us recount the mighty deeds of one Herbert Lee Beskin. WHEREAS, Herbert was born and began his legal career in the last century (or we presume); and WHEREAS, a double Hoo, Herbert graduated from the University of Virginia with a B.A. in 1972, and stayed in Charlottesville to...
Copy of Hildebrand-2016
January 7, 2024
Court lacks authority to extend stay in a case with a one-time repeat filer within a year of the previous case especially where the matter is tardily raised.
Members
January 13, 2019
By Kathryne M. Shaw,1 Boleman Law Firm, P.C. (Virginia Beach, VA) Click here for Part 2 The bankruptcy system requires good faith on the part of a debtor in exchange for the promise of a fresh start, and responsible members of the bankruptcy bar constantly work to ensure that no one “games” this powerful system. So, how does a debtor...
Members

Looking to Become a Member?

ConsiderChapter13.org offers a forum to advance continuing education of consumer bankruptcy via access to insightful articles, informative webinars, and the latest industry news. Join now to benefit from expert resources and stay informed.

Webinars

These informative sessions are led by industry experts and cover a range of consumer bankruptcy topics.

Member Articles

Written by industry experts, these articles provide in-depth analysis and practical guidance on consumer bankruptcy topics.

Industry News

The Academy is the go-to source for the latest news and analysis in the Chapter 13 bankruptcy industry.

To get started, please let us know which of these best fits your current position: