Public Citizen Op-Ed Rips Congressional Undermining of Regulatory Agencies

Amit Narang, regulatory policy advocate for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division, penned an op-ed for The Hill to bust the tenacious myth that blames regulatory “inefficiency” for agency delays.

It is Congress, not the agencies, that deserve the blame for delays. Narang makes his point with a telling example:

In what can only be described as the height of absurdity, The Washington Post reported that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has taken an astonishing two years to propose a rule that simply removes the term “midget” as one of the acceptable designations for small raisins. Adding to the absurdity is the fact that it is not at all the USDA’s fault that this process is taking so long — and there is nothing the agency can do to speed it up.

As the story notes, the real reason the USDA has taken so long is because, like all federal agencies, it has had to comply with a rule development process that is a labyrinth of complex and redundant legal and analytical requirements. Congress has only added to these requirements over the years without ever removing any of them or streamlining the process. The result is a broken regulatory system where agencies are unable to produce regulations in a timely and efficient manner and where government waste and inefficiency abound.

Narang calls on Congress to strengthen and streamline the regulatory process, but he’s not especially hopeful. The current GOP-led Congress has focused on adding burdens to regulatory agencies rather than subtracting them.

Let’s hope whoever replaces Rep. John Boehner as Speaker at the end of October brings a fresh perspective that prioritizes making government actually work instead of using legislation as a vehicle for more empty, disingenuous rhetoric about the “inefficiency” of government.

Rick Claypool is the online director for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division.

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