Letter of Support: Midnight Rule Relief Act, S. 2368 and H.R. 4607

April 30, 2012 J

Dear Senator Johnson and Representative Ribble,

On behalf of more than two million Americans for Prosperity activists in all 50 states, I applaud you for introducing the Midnight Rule Relief Act, S. 2368 and H.R. 4607 respectively. Your bills would prevent an outgoing administration from issuing any new significant regulations during a “lame-duck” session, eliminating a great source of uncertainty for American businesses.

Excessive federal regulation is already strangling American businesses. Surveys conducted by the National Federation of Independent Business, for example, regularly find “government requirements and red tape” among the most important problems facing small businesses across the country. This isn’t surprising, considering that complying with federal regulations costs the American economy $1.75 trillion per year—more than the cost of individual and corporate income taxes combined.

When the regulatory environment is ever-changing, businesses have difficulty planning and budgeting for the future. But when an outgoing administration has the power to issue new regulations with little oversight or accountability to the American people, the problem is even worse. History has shown that these “midnight regulations” have become more commonplace. Since 1970, the number of economically significant regulations—those that have an annual impact of $100 million or more on the American economy—has tended to spike in “lame-duck” sessions when there is a change in party control of the White House.

Congress does possess tools to combat divisive regulations forced through at the last minute by an outgoing administration. The Congressional Review Act was used to overturn precisely such a rule in the year 2000—the onerous workplace ergonomics standards pushed by federal regulators in the waning days of the Clinton administration. Unfortunately, these tools are imperfect and offer no guarantee that ill-conceived rules won’t slip through.

Your bills remove any uncertainty in this area: no outgoing administration is allowed to issue any significant regulation during a “lame-duck” session, between Election Day and January 20th of the following year. Smart exceptions are made for rules that are necessary for national security or to prevent imminent health or safety threats. Other than those exceptions, however, outgoing presidents can no longer use their lack of accountability at the end of their term as cover to implement unpopular or especially-costly pieces of their regulatory agenda.

AFP is proud to support the Midnight Rule Relief Act, S. 2368 and H.R. 4607. I urge your colleagues to support its passage, and I look forward to working with you in the future.


Adam A. Berkland
Federal Affairs Manager
Americans for Prosperity

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