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Jr. from Senators:
COMPREHENSIVE REGULATORY REFORM ACT
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 1995
AND THE COURTS,
Washington, DC. The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 9:36 a.m., in room SD-226, Dirksen Senate Office Building, Hon. Charles E. Grassley (chairman of the subcommittee), presiding.
Also present: Senator Thurmond. OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. CHARLES E. GRASSLEY, A U.S.
SENATOR FROM THE STATE OF IOWA Senator GRASSLEY. If I could call the meeting to order, I would like to proceed and apologize for the 5-minute delay while I had a chance to meet some friends and constituents and visit with people generally about today's meeting.
I want to welcome everybody here today, particularly our witnesses, and particularly the public because I know this is a very important issue. This is the first hearing of the Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts in the 104th Congress.
It is quite appropriate that the first hearing of this new subcommittee reflect a new focus on administrative agency practice and regulation because citizens across America are very concerned about the heavy burden of regulation, and particularly its impact upon the economy, and all imposed by unelected, and I suppose for the public consideration accountable members of the bureaucracy.
The Clinton administration has placed the cost of Federal regulation to the economy at over $430 billion annually. Despite these figures, the administration's November regulatory agenda indicates plans to issue over 800 final rules in the upcoming months. These new regulations will undoubtedly cost billions more to implement, and that is in addition to the $430 billion that the administration has already stated.
The public is beginning to understand the scope and the impact of these regulations, and I think is crying out for relief. In response to this excessive power grab by regulators, the new leadership of Congress is moving to ease the burden of Federal red tape. That is why today we are advancing an agenda as represented by the bill before us, S. 343, and that will hold Congress accountable for its actions and will límit Government so that people are protected from overregulation and overintrusive administrations.
Under S. 343, Majority Leader Bob Dole's bill, all major regulation will be subject to a cost/benefit analysis that will ensure that the benefits outweigh the costs. Major rules will be subjected to risk assessment based on sound science. In addition, Congress will be given a 45-day period to review major regulations before they take effect, and an expanded judicial review is included so that affected parties' rights can be better protected.
We all know that Congress has ceded too much power to Government bureaucracy over the decades. Many times, we enact an intentionally ambiguous law so that it can pass and then just simply leave it up to the bureaucracy, the overseeing agencies, to define what we mean. This has become a terrible abdication of responsibility on our part. I can't begin to explain how much time and effort I and my staff spend fighting an agency interpretation of a law that turned out differently than we had intended when I voted for it, and it does, when you measure that amount of time spent after a bill is passed, make you think in terms of time better being spent while we are considering the basic legislation to make it more definitive.
Some may refer to the current movement as a regulatory revolution. I see it more as an evolution. That is because the legislation before us is rooted in the Regulatory Reform Act of 1982, and that was S. 1080. This legislation had strong bipartisan support and it passed the Senate by an overwhelming 94 to 0 vote. Obviously, it didn't get through the other body, but current members of the Judiciary Committee that supported S. 1080 include Senators Biden, Leahy, Kennedy, and Heflin, along with Senators Hatch, Thurmond, Specter, Simpson, and myself. That ought to indicate a majority of support for similar changes in Senator Dole's bill.
Unfortunately, there will be those that will try to misrepresent our intentions by arguing regulatory reform will be used to gut our Nation's health, safety, and environmental laws. This argument in itself is a sham because there is not one among us here who doesn't want to do everything we reasonably can to protect the lives of our people, and who also recognize the need for effective and sound regulation. We all breathe the air and eat the food and drink the water. I want my children and I want my grandchildren to be as safe as possible and as safe as I want to be.
But many rules and regulations have become too rigid and too costly, and could threaten our Nation's limited resources, as well as public support for necessary regulations. In just about every public meeting that I hold back in my State of Iowa, I hear complaints about some agency that appears to be out of control, and I just spent Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday in my State listening to my constituents.
As others have said, we have got to find a way to do it smarter and to do it cheaper, not work harder, but work smarter. So we are here today to explore smarter, and hopefully cheaper, and for sure, better ways to accomplish what we all want, and that, of course, is sound, effective, fair, and reasonable regulation that will do the job that we intend that the regulators do.
As requested by iny ranking member, Senator Heflin, and his side of the aisle, the hearing today has actually been split into 2 days of hearings due to scheduling conflicts. Today, we will hear