Bemoaning regulatory overreach during the Obama administration, congressional Republicans and the Trump administration have worked quickly to reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens on businesses. President Trump has also issued a series of executive orders aimed at simplifying the regulatory climate.
For its part, Congress has used the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to work with the Trump Administration in repealing regulations that were issued toward the end of the Obama Administration. As part of the CRA, Congress has 60 legislative days to disapprove of a new rule if 1) both chambers vote by simple majority to repeal a new regulation and 2) it is signed by the president.
In practice, this means that the CRA is only used when a new president from the opposing political party takes office. The only time the CRA had been used prior to this year was in 2001 when Congress and President George W. Bush repealed a Clinton-era regulation related to workplace ergonomics.
The Trump administration, with the cooperation of Congress, has repealed 13 regulations using the CRA process in 2017. Of particular note for the lumber and building material industry, on April 3, President Donald Trump signed a congressional resolution repealing an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rule that extended the statute of limitations from six months to five years as to when the agency could issue a citation for failing to record an injury or illness.
Congress continues to keep up the pressure on regulatory reform. The House of Representatives has already passed several bills, including the Regulatory Accountability Act (H.R. 5), Searching for and Cutting Regulations that are Unnecessarily Burdensome (SCRUB) Act (H.R. 998), and Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act (H.R. 26).
On January 11, the House of Representatives approved the Regulatory Accountability Act. The legislation reforms the regulatory process by increasing transparency during rule development, allowing interested parties access to the data that federal agencies rely on, and making agencies consider alternatives that achieve their objective at a lower cost.
To achieve these goals, the legislation would: (1) allow for increased participation in the public commenting process; (2) mandate that agencies select the lowest cost option or demonstrate that a costlier rule is needed to protect public health, safety, or welfare; (3) allow public access to the data used in the rulemaking process to ensure that Information Quality Act standards are followed; and (4) for the most costly rules, require the agency to publish an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and demonstrate the rule has been properly designed.
Importantly, the Regulatory Accountability Act addresses the role of small businesses in the rulemaking process by amending the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) and the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA) to ensure agencies adequately analyze proposed rules for their potential impacts on small businesses. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) recently introduced a Senate version (S. 951) that reforms the rule making process but does not contain the small business provisions in the House version.
The House of Representatives has also approved the SCRUB Act and REINS Act. The SCRUB Act would establish a commission to hold hearings and find regulations that need to be removed, while the REINS Act would require any new regulation with an annual economic impact of $100 million or more to come before Congress for an up-or-down vote before being enacted.
President Trump has also issued executive orders requesting agencies to form regulatory reform task forces seeking stakeholder input on existing regulations. Among the agencies seeking feedback is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). NLBMDA recently submitted comments to EPA on the ongoing challenges with the Lead: Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) rule.
In its comments to EPA, NLBMDA pointed out that the lead-paint test kits approved by the agency for RRP compliance do not meet the rule’s false positive standard. NLBMDA supports fully reinstating the opt-out provision giving homeowners discretion if a pregnant woman or child under age 6 does not live in the home. Failing that, NLBMDA supports applying the opt-out to the owners of homes built between 1960 and 1977, where only 24% of homes have lead paint and test kits cannot accurately detect the presence of lead paint.
NLBMDA understands the need for laws that protect the safety of customers and employees, and is committed to working with Congress and federal agencies to ensure regulations are narrowly tailored, cost-effective, while providing demonstrated health benefits.