Regulatory Accountability Act

The United States Capitol building.

Under the guise of regulatory reform, the Regulatory Accountability Act (RAA) was introduced in the U.S. Senate in April 2017.  The proposed legislation would do the following:

  • Define a "major rule" as a rule that the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) concludes is likely to have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more, and a "high-impact rule" as a rule with a likely annual economic effect of $1 billion or more
  • Prevent judicial review of OIRA's determination that a rule is a "major rule" or a "high-impact rule"
  • Potentially subject "high-impact rules" and particular "major rules" to trial-type proceedings before the rule could be adopted
  • Require agencies to adopt final rules that represent the "most cost-effective alternative"

In June 2017, a coalition of attorneys general from 11 states and the District of Columbia sent a letter to Senate leadership expressing their strong opposition to the RAA. In the letter, state attorneys general noted that trial-type hearings have long been recognized as an ineffective and inefficient means for promulgating regulations, such as those protecting Americans from toxic chemicals. They also expressed concern that the RAA's requirement that an agency adopt the "most cost-effective" rule was similar to the type of vague requirement in the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) that the agency adopt the "least burdensome alternative" that had effectively stopped the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating chemicals under TSCA. Lastly, the letter noted that OIRA and federal agencies could escape judicial review of OIRA's determination that a rule was "high-impact" or "major" and then subject that rule to burdensome requirements, such as the trial-type hearing. 

As of November 2018, the Regulatory Accountability Act has not moved toward passage.