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Copyright (c) 1996 President and Fellows of Harvard College
Harvard Journal on Legislation

POLICY ESSAY: RESTORATION OF CONGRESSIONAL AUTHORITY AND RESPONSIBILITY OVER THE REGULATORY PROCESS

Summer, 1996

33 Harv. J. on Legis. 323

Author

Congressman Nick Smith*

Excerpt

The majority in the 104th Congress believes that Congress must do more to monitor administrative rulemaking. 2 An enormous amount of lawmaking responsibility rests with agency staffers who write the regulations to implement statutes. These government employees are seldom personally affected by these rules or truly accountable to those affected. Consequently, they often produce onerous regulations that serve the agency's goals and philosophy -- which are often influenced by a smaller constituency of activists -- rather than the overall public good. 3 The people who supervise the writing of the rules are often of a different political party than the majority in Congress and may disagree with the policies underlying a statute. Regulatory lawmaking has also eroded the American people's confidence in the federal government. 4 By increasingly abdicating the ultimate lawmaking function to agencies, Congress has left the American people with less and less control over their lives. 5

This Policy Essay presents an initiative to alter the overall regulatory process, as opposed to more narrow proposals that would affect only certain agencies. 6 It discusses why regulatory reform is vital, analyzes a few types of reform that are currently under consideration, and concludes with an explication of my proposal to require that Congress affirmatively enact significant rules. 7

I. THE PROBLEM: DELEGATION OF CONGRESSIONAL AUTHORITY TO THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH LEADS TO ILLEGITIMATE AND EXCESSIVE REGULATION

A. The Political Illegitimacy of the Current Regulatory Process

A couple of recent developments have made regulatory reform a pressing issue. ...
 
 
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