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house Bill H.R. 300

Should More Info About the Cost of Federal Mandates in Bills & Regulations be Available to Congress & the Public?

Argument in favor

Congress and federal agencies need to be transparent to the public about the costs imposed by federal mandates contained in the legislation or regulation they implement.This bipartisan bill would ensure those costs are publicly available for all regulations.

Argument opposed

This bill is nothing more than an attempt to slow down and sabotage the rulemaking process federal agencies use to make regulations that’d lead to watered down environmental and consumer protections.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Oversight and Reform
    IntroducedJanuary 8th, 2019

What is House Bill H.R. 300?

This bill would aim to increase the information available to Congress & the public about federal mandates in proposed bills and regulations. It’d require agencies to measure a proposed rule’s annual effect on the economy, not just “expenditures”, and to conduct an Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) analysis unless a law expressly prohibits them doing so. UMRA analyses would be required for all final rules, even those that weren’t subject to a public comment period.

The Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) current policy of accounting for specific costs of federal mandates — such as foregone business profits, costs passed onto consumers and other entities or behavioral changes — would be codified into law. Congressional committee chairmen and ranking members would be granted authority to request that the CBO perform analyses comparing the authorized levels of funding in bills or resolutions with the potential loss of federal aid dollars when mandate compliance is a condition for that aid.

Federal agencies would be required to consult with private sector entities, like small businesses, that’ll be directly impacted by proposed regulations in the same way they do with state, local, and tribal governments. Agencies would be required to include an appendix in their annual reports to Congress detailing their regulatory consultation with state, local, and tribal governments and the private sector.

The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) would be responsible for determining whether agencies have satisfied UMRA’s cost disclosure requirements. It’d allow the judicial branch to place a stay on regulations or invalidate rules if the originating federal agency fails to complete statutorily required UMRA analyses.

Impact

The public; the private sector; state, local, and tribal governments; Congress; and federal agencies, particularly the CBO.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 300

The CBO estimates that enacting this bill would cost $6 million over the 2019-2023 period.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) reintroduced this bill from the 115th Congress to make more information about the costs of federal mandates in regulations or legislation available to the public and Congress:

“Every year Washington imposes thousands of rules on local governments and small businesses. Hidden in those rules are costly mandates that stretch small businesses. Hidden in those rules are costly mandates that stretch state and city budgets and make it harder for businesses to hire. This legislation will help restore transparency and hold Washington bureaucrats accountable for the true cost — in dollars and in jobs — that federal dictates pose to the economy. Americans are better served when regulators are required to measure and consider the costs of the rules they create. Six years of work have gone into advancing this legislation, and there should be no further delay to its passage. Times are tight for families across this country. Millions of Americans remain unemployed, and many more still rely on small businesses and local governments for jobs, health care, public safety, and education. Washington should think carefully before it decrees regulation that could siphon from the limited dollars cities and small businesses use to keep people employed and localities functioning.”

Last Congress, original cosponsor Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) added:

“This follows the work I did in the Texas State Legislature, where I also passed legislation to stop unfunded mandates from the state government to local governments. We want to help our local governments and businesses by relieving unnecessary and costly red tape so that budgets, projects and jobs aren’t halted. This bill would require the federal government to measure and consider the total cost of the regulations they impose.”

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has supported this bill in past Congresses, writing:

"When the federal government institutes new regulations, local and state agencies are left to identify and meet implementation costs on their own. This is a significant burden to state and local governments, as well as to businesses. In 2015 more than 80,000 pages were added to the Federal Register at a cost to the U.S. economy of $1.8 trillion annually. Congresswoman Foxx [is]  adamant that [this]  is 'NOT an anti-regulation bill' but rather 'a bill to make our regulatory apparatus more effective.'... [This bill] will help increase awareness at federal agencies of the steep price in dollars and lost jobs of regulatory requirements... Without clear, transparent and accountable rules, state and local agencies will continue to bear the burden of federal policies. [This bill] is designed to make the regulatory process efficient, effective, and transparent so that regulations can maximize benefits and limit costs."

Last Congress, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) expressed opposition to this bill in its committee report, writing:

“H.R. 50, the Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act of 2017, is significantly flawed. The bill would be an assault on the nation’s health, safety, and environmental protections, erect new barriers to unnecessarily slow down the regulatory process, and give regulated industries an unfair advantage to water down consumer protections.”

Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) is this bill's sole sponsor in the 116th Congress. Last Congress, this bill passed the House by a 230-168 largely party-line vote, with 10 Democrats voting in favor. The bill had the support of five bipartisan cosponsors, including three Democrats and two Republicans. Rep. Foxx has introduced this bill in the past four consecutive Congresses, starting with the 113th (2013-2015).


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: lionvision / iStock)

AKA

Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act of 2019

Official Title

To provide for additional safeguards with respect to imposing Federal mandates, and for other purposes.