Republicans Want Regulatory Transparency Too


Democrats aren’t the only ones seeking greater transparency from the Trump administration, as a new regulatory bill from a conservative Republican lawmaker shows.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Nov. 30 approved H.R. 2623, the Lessening Regulatory Costs and Establishing a Federal Regulatory Budget Act, by Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.).

But first, the committee adopted a manager’s amendment authored by Meadows that would require agencies to publicize their regulatory initiatives and name the members of their regulatory reform task forces.

Meadows

Committee Democrats have been asking for membership lists during a series of oversight hearings on the task forces.

President Donald Trump first established agency regulatory reform task forces through Executive Order 13,777. They are charged with recommending lists of rules for repeal, replacement, or modification.

The concern is that former industry lobbyists once charged with fighting or weakening safety and health regulations are now working for the same federal agencies charged with regulating their industries.

Without knowing the names of task force members, there is no way to know if this might be happening, said Democrats during oversight hearings.

Meadows said the “biggest news” from the oversight hearings was that the expert career staff at the agencies actually support regulatory overhaul and eliminating regulations that don’t work.

Still, the bill would introduce a “much-needed” requirement for transparency and public participation to the review process, Meadows said.

“Transparency and public participation are key to ensuring those that are most affected by regulations have a say in the changes to them,” he said during markup of the bill.

Some agencies already have gone “above and beyond” the requirements for transparency, including creating new websites and listing task force members, Meadows said.

The bill would extend these best practice by requiring task forces to publish their findings and recommendations on agency websites at least twice a year, Meadows said.

“The task force must also make their consultation process more transparent to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to weigh in,” he said.