Weekly Column: Accountability of Federal Agencies

The passage of new federal laws often expands, rather than restricts, the responsibilities of the federal government. Examples include administering federal programs and payments, such as COVID relief. America is not made strong by a big central government that spends too much. On the contrary, our country is strengthened by respect for the abilities of the individual, and limiting the size and scope of the federal government will help reduce spending and restore the checks and balances established in the US Constitution. There are many opportunities to limit unnecessary and outdated federal programs and regulations, thereby reducing unnecessary federal spending of taxpayers’ money. Congress should advance legislation helping to take a fresh look at the operations of federal agencies to identify how federal functions can be updated and streamlined.

I have supported several pieces of legislation, including S. 2239, the Unnecessary Agency Regulation Reduction Act, and my fellow Idaho Senator Jim Risch’s S. 3996, the Regulatory Burden Reduction Act. , in this Congress, to reduce burdensome government regulations and get rid of outdated, redundant, or unnecessary agency regulations. Idaho’s recent deregulation efforts have solidified its position as a magnet for ingenuity, growth, and free enterprise. The federal government should follow suit, carefully review its long list of regulations, and get rid of those that are mere power grabs that drown American innovation in red tape and inefficiency. Sen. Risch’s Regulatory Burden Reduction Act would build on the Trump administration’s deregulation effort by codifying a 2017 Trump-era executive order to eliminate old, unnecessary, and ineffective regulations and requiring agencies to initiate simpler and more economical regulations. Under the Trump administration, federal regulation has fallen to its lowest level since the 1990s.

I have also co-sponsored legislation to curtail the growth of new agencies and programs and terminate unwarranted existing ones. The legislation I co-sponsored would outline a concise plan to institute a comprehensive review of all federal agencies. S. 925, the Federal Agency Sunset Commission Act, would help streamline operations and identify bloated federal agency inefficiencies through the following steps:

  • Create a 13-member bipartisan commission to review the effectiveness and public needs of each federal agency;
  • Require Congress to vote on the Commission’s timeline for agency abolition within one year of the bill’s passage; and
  • Accelerate the Congressional voting process on a joint resolution adopting or rejecting the Commission’s recommendations.

The legislation also takes into account the immediate and ongoing need to address the likelihood of pending congressional actions to expand and duplicate the federal government. Therefore, the legislation would require the Commission to review and report to Congress on any legislation introduced to Congress that would establish a new agency or program to be carried out by an existing agency. In addition, the Commission would be required to recommend annually, in the form of legislation, whether the agencies under review should be abolished, reorganized or continued and whether the responsibilities of the agencies should be consolidated, transferred or reorganized.

As the manager of federal spending, Congress must exercise its oversight responsibilities to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse of federal programs. The federal government must be limited and taxpayers’ money must be used effectively to help Americans effectively. The Federal Agency Sunset Commission Act, the Unnecessary Agency Regulations Reduction Act, and the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act will help accomplish this oversight responsibility. We must continue to do more to prevent federal control from seeping into other aspects of our lives.

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