Bill Would Undermine Independent Agencies, Weaken Dodd-Frank Protections and Threaten Consumer Product Safety

Comment are off

This morning, another attack on our regulatory system was launched through the Independent Agency Regulatory Analysis Act (IARAA). The Coalition for Sensible Safeguards believes that effective standards and safeguards provide health, safety and financial security for American families and are a key component of a strong economy. Passage of this bill, however, would weaken our regulatory system and fundamentally change the way independent agencies act in three major ways: compromising their independence by bringing them under White House control, further delaying important standards and safeguards in a procedural black hole and imposing costly and redundant procedures.

Independent agencies exist to insulate important issue areas from the political pressures associated with being part of the executive branch. These agencies would be severely weakened by bringing them under the jurisdiction of the White House, aggravating the already chronic delay in rule reviews within the Office of Information and Regulatory affairs (OIRA), a key office involved in rulemakings and public protections.

Imagine a situation where a popular children’s toy is sitting in stores but contains dangerous levels of lead. Congress has created independent agencies like the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to react swiftly to emerging threats and has given these agencies their own economic analysis requirements based on what type of product is being regulated and what type of risk is being addressed. The agency is currently working to ensure that safety tests and testing facilities are holding children’s products to the appropriate standards under the law. Delaying these protections could mean that American children would lack the protection Congress has required.

The IARAA would make it more difficult for independent regulatory agencies like the CPSC to respond quickly to emerging crises and protect Americans from harm. Within OIRA, there are currently 51 regulations that have been under review for over a year. If independent agencies were to submit their rules to OIRA, this crisis would swell and completely stall our regulatory system.

Other agencies that would be stripped of their independence include the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the National Labor Relations Board. Each agency’s needs and functions are quite different from one another – in structure, in mission and in the requirements they must meet. Overriding Congress’ direction to each agency and requiring instead a preeminent focus on economic impact is, simply put, bad policy.

Independent agencies would be overwhelmed with new hoops and hurdles, worsening delays and increasing costly redundancies with requirements these agencies already have in place.

The bottom line is that this bill would politicize independent regulatory agencies and make it harder for them to protect Americans. The innocent-sounding Independent Agency Regulatory Analysis Act poses a subtle but dangerous attack on public protections. It would delay – or prevent altogether – crucial reforms to improve financial regulation, consumer and product safety, oversight over nuclear facilities, and more.

[i] Click here to read the full CSS press release.