Senators Launch #CutRedTape Initiative
Last week, Senators James Lankford and Heidi Heitkamp launched the #CutRedTape Initiative, an effort to solicit and highlight concerns about regulation with the aim of reforming the regulatory process. This is the latest move in a larger effort by both the Republican-controlled Congress and the Obama Administration to reform the federal regulatory system.
The two Senators seek examples and stories from the public about regulation run amok, using their perch as Chairman and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management in the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
Anyone interested in submitting anecdotes or stories about existing regulations can do so via a portal on the Committee’s website. The Committee will screen submissions and highlight those that they feel are compelling and in need of investigation. The Senators see the portal as a tool to elicit a grassroots response from individual citizens.
The Initiative has the backing of the Committee Chairman and Ranking Member, Ron Johnson and Tom Carper. Along with Lankford and Heitkamp, these Senators on March 18th penned an open letter seeking assistance in identifying regulations of concern and changes to the regulatory process. The letter, available on the Committee website, was also sent to more than two hundred major trade associations and non-governmental organizations. Responses are requested by April 17th and will likely inform the Committee’s future reform efforts.
At the first regulatory reform hearing in the Committee this year, nearly every Senator present recounted constituent complaints about regulation. That hearing, which served as an overview of regulatory reform proposals in Congress, focused most of its attention on the need to review existing regulations that may be outdated, a concept also known as retrospective review.
The Obama Administration has an ongoing initiative on retrospective review, in which each federal regulatory agency has developed a list of regulations that are the focus of reform and embodied in a retrospective review plan. These agency retrospective review plans are updated every six months (the most recent ones are dated February 15th) have been criticized by business groups for being too timid, barely scratching the surface of what is needed. Administration officials, led by OMB Director Sean Donovan and OIRA Administrator Howard Shelanski, claim to be “reinvigorating” this effort, and have held outreach meetings with a wide range of interest groups seeking ideas on how best to do so. Another round of outreach meetings are being held this week.