Bipartisan effort to restore accountability in federal regulations

Last week, a group of Republican and Democrat House lawmakers introduced a bill that aims to prevent minor federal officials who have not been confirmed by the Senate from imposing billions of dollars of regulatory costs on Americans each year.

The “Ensuring Accountability in Agency Rulemaking Act” was put forward by Republican Rep. Ben Cline and Democrat Rep. Jared Golden, among others, in an effort to ensure that all federal regulations are legally initiated and issued by federal officials who are Senate-confirmed and thus more accountable to American voters.

In an interview with Fox News Digital, Rep. Cline stated that too many regulations are released by minor agency officials, which has led to new rules that contribute to soaring federal mandates, costing 10% of America’s gross domestic product each year.

The bill is a response to a 2019 study by the Pacific Legal Foundation, which found that 98% of all rules that came out of the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Food and Drug Administration (FDA) between 2001 and 2017 were issued “illegally” by non-Senate confirmed officials and that other agencies had similar problems.

The study found that 25 of those rules had an economic impact of more than $100 million and that the FDA’s high incidence of rules issued by minor officials meant that more than 70% of all HHS rules were “unconstitutional.”

Joe Luppino-Esposito, deputy legal policy director at the foundation, said that the bipartisan nature of Cline’s bill shows that “people on both sides of the aisle are recognizing” the problem of ceding too much authority to minor, unknown officials who aren’t directly accountable to the people.

This is a major victory for Republicans who have been fighting against the overreaching executive branch authority of the Democrats.

The legal theory underpinning this effort is that the Constitution’s Appointments Clause requires senior appointed officials to impose regulatory burdens on Americans, a view the foundation says has been supported by a few Supreme Court cases: Buckley v. Valeo in 1976 and Edmond v. United States in 1997.

The foundation says those cases backed the idea that “only principal agency officers (like department heads and assistant secretaries confirmed by the Senate) may issue regulations that have the force of law.”

Under the bill, most federal rules would have to be “issued and signed by an individual appointed by the president, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate.” The bill also holds that rules must be initiated by these senior officials.

This is a major step forward in ensuring that the regulatory state is held accountable to the American people, and not just a small group of unelected bureaucrats.

As we have seen under the Biden Administration, the overreaching regulations put forth by the Democrats have been a burden on the American people and economy. It’s time to put an end to this and restore accountability in the regulatory process.