For Lasting Regulatory Reform, Congress Must Act

by C. Jarrett Dieterle

The Wall Street Journal’s lead editorial from April 18, “Trump’s Deregulation Project,” applauded President Donald Trump’s early deregulatory moves, such as issuing Executive Order 13771 and whacking Obama-era rules via the Congressional Review Act. While these moves are a step in the right direction, true deregulatory change will require more than executive orders and ad hoc targeting of individual rules through the CRA. To put our country on a sustainable path toward deregulation, the processes by which agencies enact regulations must be reformed.

This ultimately requires congressional involvement, in the form of comprehensive regulatory-reform legislation. Unlike executive orders, which may simply be reversed by the next president, statutory changes lock in the benefits of reform for the long haul. Congress already has a menu of options, including bills like the REINS Act, which would require express congressional approval of agencies’ costliest rules. The Regulatory Accountability Act is another alternative that would codify portions of previous executive orders on agency rulemaking, among other changes.

Congress is the first branch of government and the one primarily tasked with oversight of the executive branch. It needs to reassert itself if we are to turn this deregulatory moment into a deregulatory trend.

(On Congress and recent regulatory reform legislation, see http://www.rstreet.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/91.pdf)