ACCA Uses of the Congressional Review Act to Roll Back Regulations - IE3: Indoor Environment & Energy Efficiency

ACCA Uses of the Congressional Review Act to Roll Back Regulations

Small businesses are responsible for nearly two-thirds of job growth in America, but your ability to move our economy forward has been dulled by endless regulations. Regulations are particularly burdensome on small businesses, which lack the resources and personnel to keep up.

It was no surprise when Reduction of Regulations surfaced in our member’s surveys as the second most import issue for ACCA to work to tackle, behind Energy Efficient Quality HVACR Installations. Specifically, we hope our work to reduce regulations will ensure federal agencies focus on reducing regulations by considering effects on small business and considering less burdensome alternatives. For far too long federal regulations are enacted by government agencies who circumvent the Office of Management Circular A-119, which directs federal agencies to use voluntary consensus standards in lieu of government-unique standards.  Voluntary consensus standards are developed or adopted by voluntary consensus bodies recognized by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).  The ANSI standard development process dictates that all interested parties can provide input on any proposed standard (mostly will informed stakeholders, both pro and con), thus ensuring a broad cross-section of viewpoints on proposed standards. 

During the first 100 days of the new Administration and 115th Congress we’ve been working to turn back the clock on regulations that impact ACCA’s members. Our goal going forward is to have all regulations and incentives tied to OMB Circular A-119.  Doing so will ensure safeguards for our industry and consumers.  

The Congressional Review Act (CRA), a tool we’ve been working with Congress and the Administration to use, allows Congress to repeal executive branch regulations. Once the House and Senate pass a joint resolution disapproving of a regulation, the president signs the measure.  Passed in 1996 in concert with the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act and then-Speaker Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America reform agenda, the CRA is what the Congressional Research Service calls an oversight tool that Congress may use to overturn a rule issued by a federal agency. The law also prevents agencies from creating similar rules with similar language. 

Until this year, the law had been used successfullyonly once—in 2001, when Congress and President George W. Bush rescinded a regulation regarding workplace injuries promulgated by the OSHA, during the Clinton administration.  

Here’s a couple of highlights from of the eleven regulatory rollbacks Congress has passed and President Trump has signed as of April 24, 2017 that ACCA is especially proud of: 

OSHA Rule for logging workplace injuries (H.J. 83) 

OSHA issued the 5-year record keeping rule in the waning days of President Obama’s administration that would have subjected millions of American businesses to citations for paperwork violations, while doing nothing to improve worker health and safety.  The rule attempted to extend to five years the explicit six-month statute of limitations on recordkeeping violations in the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970.

ACCA’s efforts were recognized by Majority Leader McConnell, during his opening remarks as the Senate prepared to take a vote on this CRA. 

Drug-testing requirements (H.J. Res 42) 

The HVACR Industry has a considerable shortage of skilled workers, and the problem is accelerating due to constraints in the training pipeline.  Skilled labor is bit to proper installation and maintenance of cutting edge equipment.  

As ACCA petitions the federal and state governments to prioritize technical education support, having states armed with the flexibility to conduct a drug-testing program on those seeking to tap into their unemployment insurance system is believed to be imperative to getting more folks in the training pipeline. 

Four governors—Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Greg Abbott of Texas, Gary Herbert of Utah, and Phil Bryant of Mississippi—wrote Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, to ask that states be allowed to implement their own policies. 

“We believe this rule should be replaced with a new rule that allows increased flexibility for states to implement … drug testing that best fits the needs of each state,” the governors said in a letter to Congress. 

As Congress remains in a period of deep political uncertainty, ACCA will continue our efforts to use the CRA to turn back to clock on as many regulations as possible to benefit our members.

Barton James

Barton James

Senior Vice President of Government Relations at ACCA
Barton James is ACCA’s Senior Vice President of Government Relations. He can be reached at barton.james@acca.org
Barton James

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