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Capitol Correspondence - 05.22.17

Senate Committee Advances Regulatory Accountability Act

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ANCOR is closely monitoring Senate and House legislation that would significantly slow down the federal regulatory process, which is concerning because of implications for the welfare of people with disabilities who rely on regulations for protection. The bill monitored is known as the Regulatory Accountability Act (RAA) in both the House and the Senate. One version passed the House (HR.5) and a different version is now one step closer to a vote in the Senate. The bipartisan Senate version of the RAA (S.951) passed out of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee by a vote of 8-6 on May 17, 2017. The Committee vote largely followed party lines, with Republicans for and Democrats against, except for Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) who is one of the four original co-sponsors of the Senate version. The next step for this bill will be a general vote by the full Senate, which has not yet been set. Because of the differences between the House and Senate bills, following a vote by the Senate there would need to be a process called reconciliation to craft a bill both chambers can agree on.

Highlights from the Committee discussion were:

  • Arguments opposing the bill:
    • Senator McCaskill (D-MO) was deeply concerned with how this bill could increase litigation and create a lot of uncertainty among people who rely on regulations for protection as to what their rights are.
  • Arguments supporting the bill:
    • Senator Portman (R-OH), the lead sponsor of this bill, stated that it just codifies review and analysis steps undertaken by every President since Reagan and would provide stability for the private sector because it would make the regulatory process more stable.
    • Senator Heitkamp stressed that the Senate version is not the same as the House version and gives weight to the dangers of not taking regulatory action.