The RAA: The Worst Bill You’ve Never Heard Of

Explainers | May 19, 2017

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It’s called the Regulatory Accountability Act of 2017 (RAA), and it’s an extremely dangerous bill that the Senate will soon vote on. The RAA will impact nearly every American under the guise of a “harmless” procedural change. Introduced by Senators Portman (R-OH) and Heitkamp (D-ND), the bill changes long-standing rules on how federal agencies regulate everything from food safety to toxic chemicals to equipment failure at nuclear power plants—things that keep us all safe. Republicans are quietly ramming this bill through Congress and we have to act quickly to stop them.

The RAA would impose nearly insurmountable barriers before any new public safeguard.

The RAA would drastically change how government agencies issue federal regulations. Republicans like to complain about regulations, but the truth is that many of these regulations are why we have clean air to breathe, can be protected against financial malfeasance, and are fighting the spread of communicable diseases. The RAA would prioritize corporate profits over public protections and paralyze the regulatory process, making it even harder for the government to keep American consumers and workers safe.

In essence, the RAA would:

  • Require agencies across the board to adopt the cheapest regulations for corporations, not the regulations that maximize benefits to the American public.
  • Drown agency regulators with 53 new rulemaking requirements before putting new rules in place: it would require agencies to do a complex analysis of ANY alternative proposal, allowing special interests to delay regulations by proposing impractical options that then must be rigorously analyzed.
  • Instruct agencies to prioritize industry special interests above protecting the health and safety of consumers and workers, rather than creating strong and effective regulatory safeguards that maximize benefits for the American public.
  • Force federal agencies to hold trial-like hearings for new regulations. These “adversarial hearings”—a discredited form of rulemaking that allows corporations to cross-examine ‘witnesses’—have led to enormous regulatory delay and dysfunction. Regulatory experts have recommended that “Congress never require trial-type procedures” for regulations.
  • Impose a gag order for proposed regulations so agencies can’t make any public statement about the proposed rules, even against wildly inaccurate claims; and
  • Politicize currently independent commissions by subjecting them to White House interference.

Isn’t it good to make sure proposed regulations go through a streamlined but thorough vetting process?

Despite what its supporters say, the RAA adds layers of complications to creating any new rule, no matter how important to public health or safety. RAA could lead to massive attacks on consumer protections in every area of life, by forcing major rules to go through trial-like hearings every few years. Not only would this jeopardize health and environmental protections, but would also put at risk critical civil rights regulations and disability accommodations. And many, many more important consumer and civil rights protections.

Tell your Senator you oppose a burdensome regulation process that puts Americans at risk for public safety hazards.

Some Republicans in Congress thinks it’s acceptable to undermine our public safety in order to give corporations more leeway over federal regulatory processes. They hope that this bill won’t get attention—that’s why they’re pushing it through so quickly. The RAA has already passed the House, so we need to make sure Senators hear from us NOW. We must act quickly to make sure Congress knows it is NOT OKAY to shut down new health and safety standards.

Tell your Senator to OPPOSE S.951 Regulatory Accountability Act of 2017 (RAA).

Sample Town Hall Questions:

  • We should not be putting science on trial, especially when there is already a lengthy, well-established rulemaking process. Will you commit to standing up for science and protecting public health by opposing the Regulatory Accountability Act?
  • The so-called Regulatory Accountability Act will make it easier for corporations to block the rules that keep us safe. The Republicans are focused on money, but at what human cost? The EPA’s climate rule alone, which corporations are already trying to block, is estimated to prevent more than 3,000 premature deaths annually. Will you oppose this dangerous bill?
  • I’m deeply concerned about politicizing regulations. Clean air and clean water shouldn’t depend on who is in the White House. Can you commit to me, your constituent, that you won’t agree to any bill that obstructs and politicizes the regulatory process necessary to keep our communities safe?
  • I am concerned Congress might undermine the processes of independent agencies working on our health and safety. The regulation process is already lengthy and provides for public input, yet the RAA may allow corporations to delay rules they don’t like. Will you commit to opposing the RAA?