On Nov. 16, the American Council for Capital Formation Center for Policy Research hosted a Capitol Hill roundtable discussion in the Senate Dirksen Office Building on “Improving the Federal Regulatory System: Promoting Transparency, Accountability, and Scientific Integrity.”
Four U.S. senators leading the effort to improve the federal rulemaking process headlined the bipartisan event: Sens. James Lankford (R-OK), Angus King (I-ME), Mike Rounds (R-SD) and Ron Johnson (R-WI).
Sen. Rounds comments at the roundtable best captured the challenge facing Congress, noting that there are nearly 4,000 regulations on the books – costing $1.9 trillion in taxpayer dollars – that are affecting the lives of Americans every day. Sen. Lankford agreed and said there needs to be better public involvement in the rulemaking process to ensure that federal agencies aren’t putting too great a burden on families and small businesses.
In addition to the senators, participants in the two-hour roundtable discussion included representatives from the financial services, energy, industrial, and manufacturing sectors. Also participating were representatives from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Business Roundtable, National Association of Manufacturers, National Council of State Legislatures, National Governors Association, and several congressional committee staff and members of the media.
The roundtable focused on three key principles for improving the federal government’s regulatory process:
- Transparency – Moderator Sofie Miller, senior policy analyst at the George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center, led a discussion on the need to increase public participation in the rulemaking process, a review of the effectiveness of current rules, and the need to establish a framework for making data about proposed and existing regulations available to the public.
- Accountability – Moderator Paul Noe, vice president for public policy at the American Forest & Paper Association, directed a discussion about Congress’ delegation of authority to the federal agencies and judicial deference laid out in the Chevron decision, the role of guidance documents in implementing legislation, agency interpretations of legislative intent, and how to improve oversight of independent agencies.
- Scientific Integrity – Moderator Bill Kovacs, senior vice president of environment, technology and regulatory affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, covered issues related to how to best relay scientific data to the public and how to avoid conflicts of interest on science advisory panels.
The roundtable concluded with a reception with Sen. Johnson, who told those in attendance that he was looking forward to getting down to work in the 115th Congress with the incoming administration to overhaul the current regulatory system and make it better serve the people.