In the national debate over regulations, there is one thing upon which all sides can agree: the federal rulemaking system is deeply flawed.
Over the years, Congress and presidents have tinkered with the inner-workings of the regulatory apparatus, placing new restrictions on agencies charged with writing rules, and ordering them to root out those that are outdated or overly burdensome.
Despite those tweaks, the current system lacks any institutional mechanism to expunge unneeded federal restrictions.
There are no strict time limits requiring administrations to either issue or withdraw proposed rules aside from those specifically set by laws or the courts. And both advocates and critics of stronger regulations complain of a lack of transparency to the process.
“It’s totally broken,” said Peg Seminario, the AFL-CIO’s longtime director of Occupational Safety and Health. “The system is basically a poster child for how government doesn’t work.”
Yet when it comes to potential solutions, there is little consensus.
Republicans and industry groups, who have bemoaned what they view as overly aggressive federal agencies, want more restrictions on the rulemaking process and a greater reliance on economic analysis in decisions regarding new regulations.