How Compromises in the Legislation Undermine Regulatory Reform in the US

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Shapiro, S. and D. Moran. 2015. The Questionable History of Regulatory Reform Since the APA. Mercatus Working Paper. March 2015

The study conducted by Shapiro and Moran examines the legislative histories and implementation of key regulatory reform statutes enacted after the passage of the Administrative Procedure Act in 1946 (the Paperwork Reduction Act, the Regulatory Flexibility Act, the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act, the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act, and the Congressional Review Act) and finds that these bills passed after crucial but controversial provisions were weakened.

Compromises included in the legislation to secure its passage have consistently undermined substantive reform objectives by maintaining broad agency discretion to interpret the law and by minimizing judicial review. If the history of regulatory reform is any indication, the success of future reform will hinge on whether reform bills maintain the substantive intent of their sponsors or are watered down until they fulfill a merely symbolic purpose.

(Fabrizio Di Mascio)