WASHINGTON – Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Fred Thompson (R-TN), Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-AK), and Senator John Breaux (D-LA) today announced that the Senate late Friday approved the Thompson-Stevens-Breaux “Regulatory Right-to-Know Act.” The Act will require the White House?s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to disclose to the public the costs and benefits of regulatory programs in a report to be included each year in the Federal Budget. The legislation is contained in the Treasury-Postal Title (Section 624) of the Omnibus Appropriations Act, which now goes to the President for his signature.
“The Regulatory Right-to-Know Act is based on a simple but important idea,” Chairman Thompson said. “People have a right to know the costs and benefits of important regulatory decisions. This will help the Congress, the President, and the public better understand whether regulations are sensible and fair.”
Senator Stevens said, “This is an important tool for decision-makers. It will give Congress the ability to perform its oversight function in a more efficient and effective manner. In order to make sound decisions, Congress must have access to how and why agencies make decisions, and what the consequences of those decisions would be.”
“Government has an obligation to carefully consider mandates that impose costs on people and limit their freedom,” Senator Breaux said. “Now we members of Congress and the American people will know, each year, the real value of proposed Federal regulations.”
The Thompson-Stevens-Breaux legislation, which has been included in the Treasury-Postal Appropriations bill as a one-year reporting requirement for the last two years, strengthens and makes permanent the original regulatory accounting provision secured by Chairman Stevens in 1996. The Regulatory Right-to-Know Act requires the OMB director to provide Congress with a report on the total annual benefits and costs of Federal regulatory programs, as well as an analysis of the impacts of federal regulation on state, local, and tribal government, small business, wages, and economic growth. It also requires OMB to issue agency guidelines and to solicit public comment and expert peer review to continually improve the quality of the reports.
“This is about good government,” Thompson said. “This legislation will help hold federal agencies accountable for the cost and effectiveness of their regulations and reduce needless waste and red tape. It will promote responsible efforts to protect public health, safety and the environment, and it will promote the economic security and well-being of our families and communities. The costs and benefits of regulation can now receive the attention of the Executive Branch and Congress when we debate the federal budget each year.”