[Senate Report 116-88]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]

                                                       Calendar No. 192

116th Congress     }                                         {     Report
1st Session        }                                         {     116-88





                              R E P O R T

                                 of the


                          GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS

                          UNITED STATES SENATE

                              to accompany

                                S. 1419



               September 10, 2019.--Ordered to be printed
89-010               WASHINGTON : 2019              

                    RON JOHNSON, Wisconsin, Chairman
ROB PORTMAN, Ohio                    GARY C. PETERS, Michigan
RAND PAUL, Kentucky                  THOMAS R. CARPER, Delaware
JAMES LANKFORD, Oklahoma             MAGGIE HASSAN, New Hampshire
MITT ROMNEY, Utah                    KAMALA D. HARRIS, California
RICK SCOTT, Florida                  KYRSTEN SINEMA, Arizona
MICHAEL B. ENZI, Wyoming             JACKY ROSEN, Nevada

                Gabrielle D'Adamo Singer, Staff Director
                   Joseph C. Folio III, Chief Counsel
       Patrick J. Bailey, Chief Counsel for Governmental Affairs
               David M. Weinberg, Minority Staff Director
               Zachary I. Schram, Minority Chief Counsel
          Yogin J. Kothari, Minority Professional Staff Member
                     Laura W. Kilbride, Chief Clerk

                                                       Calendar No. 192
116th Congress }                                              {   Report
 1st Session   }                                              {   116-88




               September 10, 2019.--Ordered to be printed


 Mr. Johnson, from the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental 
                    Affairs, submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                         [To accompany S. 1419]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental 
Affairs, to which was referred the bill (S. 1419) to require 
agencies to publish an advance notice of proposed rulemaking 
for major rules, having considered the same, reports favorably 
thereon with an amendment (in the nature of a substitute) and 
recommends that the bill, as amended, do pass.


  I. Purpose and Summary..............................................1
 II. Background and Need for the Legislation..........................2
III. Legislative History..............................................4
 IV. Section-by-Section Analysis......................................5
  V. Evaluation of Regulatory Impact..................................5
 VI. Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate........................6
VII. Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported............7

                         I. Purpose and Summary

    The Early Participation in Regulations Act of 2019 requires 
Federal agencies to solicit and consider public comment early 
in the rulemaking process through an advanced notice of 
proposed rulemaking (ANPRM). Considering alternative solutions, 
articulated by or flowing from public comment at an earlier 
stage, ensures that agencies will consider a broader range of 
policies before they give preference to a particular position 
to the exclusion of others. The bill requires that for certain 
major rules, agencies must publish an ANPRM in the Federal 
Register at least 90 days before publishing a notice of 
proposed rulemaking (NPRM).\1\
    \1\On June 28, 2017, the Committee approved S. 579, Early 
Participation in Regulations Act of 2017. That bill is substantially 
similar to S. 1419. Accordingly, this committee report is in large part 
a reproduction of Chairman Johnson's committee report for S. 579, S. 
Rep. No. 115-121.
    The ANPRM must identify the nature and significance of the 
problem the agency seeks to address, the legal authority under 
which the agency may do so, generally describe regulatory 
alternatives under consideration, and solicit relevant data. 
The agency must then allow at least 30 days for public comment. 
The bill provides an exemption, upon the determination of the 
Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory 
Affairs (OIRA), for rules in which complying with the 
requirements of the legislation would not serve the public 
interest, or would be both unduly burdensome and duplicative of 
processes otherwise required by law. The bill also exempts 
those rules that do not require a notice of proposed 
rulemaking, and those otherwise exempted by law. The bill does 
not require nor preclude agencies from responding to comments 
submitted under the ANPRM.

              II. Background and the Need for Legislation

    The Administrative Procedure Act (APA), enacted over 70 
years ago, establishes the basic procedures for agency 
rulemaking--the guidelines governing the administrative 
state.\2\ As one scholar put it, it is ``the bill of rights for 
the new regulatory state . . . establish[ing] the fundamental 
relationship between regulatory agencies and those whom they 
regulate--between government, on the one hand, and private 
citizens, business, and the economy, on the other hand.''\3\ 
The APA codified ``patterns of good behavior'' by 
administrative agencies, patterns that had become ``general, 
though not universal'' in practice.\4\
    \2\Administrative Procedure Act, Sec. 5 U.S.C. 553; see also 5 
U.S.C. Sec. 551(4) (defining the parameters of rulemaking: it can 
include ``formulating, amending, or repealing a rule'').
    \3\George B. Shepherd, Fierce Compromise: the Administrative 
Procedure Act Emerges from New Deal Politics, 1996 Northwestern U. L. 
Rev. 90, 1558.
    \4\Walter Gellhorn, The Administrative Procedure Act: The 
Beginnings, 1986 Va. L. Rev. 72, 232. 5 APA,
    The APA, however, does not contemplate the use of an ANPRM. 
Instead, it only requires that agencies, where applicable, 
issue a NPRM in the Federal Register before formulating a final 
rule. NPRMs, which articulate the agency's proposed rule on a 
certain policy issue, require much more specificity than their 
ANPRM counterparts. Part of this specificity arises from the 
fact that at the NPRM stage, the agency has already chosen a 
policy trajectory, and so must detail the specifics of that 
policy, including ``the terms or substance of the proposed rule 
or a description of the subjects and issues involved.''\5\ More 
starkly, some scholars and business executives argue that, 
``[b]ecause of the incentives they face, agencies make 
decisions to regulate before any evidence that might suggest 
regulations are not needed. They do so purposely with little--
if any--input from stakeholders or internal analysis.''\6\ 
Because the agency has to dedicate time and resources to the 
contents of an NPRM later in the rulemaking process than would 
be required of an ANPRM, while both provide notice and 
opportunity to comment, the public's ability to persuade the 
agency of alternatives may be less effective by the NPRM phase. 
As one regulatory scholar put it, ``[a]gencies often write 
regulations before they do the basic homework that would help 
them design the best possible regulation,'' resulting in the 
```[r]eady-fire-aim' rulemaking'' problem.\7\
    \5\U.S.C. Sec. 553(b)(3).
    \6\Raising the Agencies' Grades: Protecting the Economy, Assuring 
Regulatory Quality and Improving Assessments of Regulatory Need: 
Hearing Before the H. Comm. on the Judiciary Subcomm. on the Courts, 
Commercial and Administrative Law, 111th Cong. (2011) (focusing on the 
statement of Richard Williams).
    \7\Jerry Ellig, Ready-fire-aim Rulemaking, The Hill, Sep. 27, 2013.
    In a 2015 hearing, former OIRA Administrator John Graham 
echoed this sentiment:

    One of the things I think members should be aware of is 
that agencies take public comment and public participation 
after they have proposed a solution. And like all human beings, 
once we think we know what the solution is, we put it on the 
table, it is not that easy to move people off that original 
proposal . . . . In some of these rules it is probably better 
if the agency says, ``Hey we are thinking about regulating in 
this area. We are going to do this advance notice where we are 
going to lay out some of the data, what we think the problems 
are, look at a range of ideas,'' and not lock themselves into 
anything. Take comment at that stage, and then once they have 
that, then they go to a proposal.\8\
    \8\Examining Federal Rulemaking Challenges and Areas of Improvement 
Within the Existing Regulatory Process: Hearing Before the S. Comm. on 
Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Subcomm. on Regulatory Affairs 
& Fed. Mgmt., 114th Cong. (2015) 27-28 (focusing on the statement of 
Hon. John Graham).

    ANPRMs would give notice of and invite public comment on a 
much more generalized policy proposal before it reaches the 
proposed rule stage. Comments responsive to ANPRMs can be as 
diverse as to include underlying information the agency should 
weigh, or the benefits of alternative policy proposals the 
agency should consider.
    While the APA does not require ANPRMs as part of the 
rulemaking process, some agencies, such as the National Oceanic 
and Atmospheric Administration, the Department of 
Transportation, and Consumer Product Safety Commission, 
routinely issue ANPRMs for rules promulgated under their 
authority.\9\ However, the majority of agencies do so for 
significant rules only infrequently.\10\
    \9\Sofie E. Miller & Saayee Arumugam, Notice & Comment: How 
Agencies Use Advance Notices of Proposed Rulemaking, 2015 Geo. Wash. 
Univ. Reg. Studies Ctr. 6 (Jan. 23, 2015).
    \10\Id. For example, from 2005 through 2014, 59 percent of ANPRMs 
were for ``Nonsignificant'' and ``Substantive, but not `Significant''' 
rules. Only eight percent were for ``Economically Significant'' or 
``Major'' rules. More generally, during that same period, all agencies 
combined issued an average of less than 50 ANPRMs per year, whereas the 
number of final rules is in the thousands.
    A 2015 report concluded that ``[i]f regulatory reform 
proposals seek to increase opportunities for the public to 
influence important regulatory decisions, agency use of advance 
notices has room for improvement.''\11\ As another former OIRA 
Administrator, Susan Dudley, stated, the use of ANPRMs ``could 
be valuable for soliciting input from knowledgeable parties on 
a range of possible approaches, data, models, etc., before 
particular policy options have been selected.''\12\
    \11\Id. at 6.
    \12\A Review of Regulatory Reform Proposals: Hearing Before the S. 
Comm. on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs, 114th Cong. (2015) 
(offering the prepared statement of Hon. Susan Dudley) (Sept. 16, 
    Worries that adding additional statutory requirements 
requiring time for public comment will inhibit or otherwise 
delay agency efforts to promulgate necessary regulations--the 
so-called ``ossification theory''--have been questioned.\13\ A 
2012 report noted that ``statutory and executive order 
analytical requirements, while potentially time consuming, were 
not the major factor in determining the amount of time that it 
took for the agencies to issue these rules . . . [instead] they 
said most of the time is taken up with doing the basic science 
and other preparations for the rule, not the crosscutting 
analytical requirements.''\14\ Additionally, whereas 
``economically significant'' rules do trigger additional 
analytical requirements on agencies--notably a ``require[ment] 
to complete a detailed cost-benefit analysis''\15\--the OIRA 
review for such rules is on average shorter than rules that do 
not entail such requirements.\16\
    \13\Jason Webb Yackee & Susan Webb Yackee, Testing the Ossification 
Thesis: An Empirical Examination of Federal Regulatory Volume and Speed 
from 1950-1990, 2012 Geo. Wash. L. Rev. 80, 1414; see also Stephen M. 
Johnson, Ossification's Demise? An Empirical Analysis of EPA Rulemaking 
from 2001-2005, 2008 Environmental L. Rev. 38, 101.
    \14\Curtis Copeland, Regulatory Analysis Requirements: A Review and 
Recommendations for Reform, Report for the Administrative Conference of 
the United States (2012) at 67 (citing internal Government 
Accountability Office interviews).
    \15\Maeve P. Carey, Counting Regulations: An Overview of 
Rulemaking, Types of Federal Regulations, and Pages in the Federal 
Register, Report R43056, Cong. Research Serv. (2015) at 11.
    \16\Id. At 13. The author notes there are potentially pre-review 
reasons why this is the case. Nevertheless, it belies the intuition 
that adding rulemaking requirements necessarily results in delays.
    S. 1419 would require agencies to publish an ANPRM in the 
Federal Register for certain major rules at least 90 days 
before publishing a NPRM. Building ANPRMs into the rulemaking 
process for major rules would allow public participation at a 
crucial time in the rulemaking process, just as--but not 
after--policy proposals are formulated. The value of public 
comment, both for the public to be heard, and for the agency to 
gather useful input, is highest at this earlier stage. Here, 
public comment can help inform the rulemaking process, instead 
of merely corroborating or justifying inceptive preferences.

                        III. Legislative History

    Senator James Lankford (R-OK) introduced S. 1419 on May 13, 
2019, with Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ). The bill was referred 
to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. 
The Committee considered S. 1419 at a June 19, 2019 business 
    During the business meeting, Senator Lankford offered an 
amendment in the nature of a substitute which was adopted by 
unanimous consent with Senators Johnson, Portman, Lankford, 
Romney, Scott, Enzi, Hawley, Peters, Carper, Hassan, Sinema and 
Rosen present. The amendment made several technical changes, 
shortened the minimum required public comment period from 60 to 
30 days, and expanded the allowable exemptions to avoid 
potential duplicative requirements.
    The Committee ordered S. 1419 reported favorably as amended 
by the Lankford substitute amendment by voice vote. Senators 
present were Johnson, Portman, Paul, Lankford, Romney, Scott, 
Enzi, Hawley, Peters, Carper, Hassan, Sinema, and Rosen. 
Senators Peters and Hassan were recorded as having voted ``no'' 
for the record.

        IV. Section-by-Section Analysis of the Bill, as Reported

Section 1. Short title

    This section provides the bill's short title, the ``Early 
Participation in Regulations Act of 2019.''

Section 2. Advance notice of proposed rulemaking

    This section amends 5 U.S.C. Section 551. It defines the 
term ``major rule'' as any rule that the OIRA Administrator 
determines is likely to impose annual economic effects of 
$100,000,000, significantly increases costs or prices, or 
otherwise significantly affect competition, employment, 
investment or other economic conditions. The section also 
defines ``Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs'' as 
that established under 44 U.S.C. 3503.
    This section also amends Section 553 of the Administrative 
Procedure Act by adding a new subsection (f) outlining the new 
rulemaking requirements.
    The new paragraph (1) provides that ANPRMs must be 
published in the Federal Register at least 90 days prior to 
publication of a NPRM,
    The new paragraph (2) lays out the required contents of any 
ANPRM. The ANPRM must identify the nature and significance of 
the problem the agency seeks to address with the major rule; 
any regulatory alternatives under consideration; the legal 
authority under which the major rule may be proposed; and 
metrics by which the agency can measure progress. The agency 
must solicit comment from interested persons, leaving the 
comment period open for at least 30 days.
    The new paragraph (3) lists three circumstances in which an 
agency is excepted from having to issue the ANPRM required by 
the bill: (1) if the agency is not required to publish a notice 
of proposed rulemaking for the major rule; (2) if the OIRA 
Administrator determines that complying with the bill's 
requirements for the major rule would not be in the public 
interest, would be duplicative and unnecessary to achieve the 
intended public input, or impractical given Congressional or 
judicial deadline; or (3) if the Administrator determines the 
rule is ``routine or periodic in nature.''
    The new paragraph (4) exempts the OIRA Administrator's 
determinations pursuant to subsection (3) from judicial review. 
This paragraph additionally provides that any deviation between 
the policies set forth in the agency's ANPRM under paragraph 
(2) and any final agency action shall not be considered by a 
reviewing court to be arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of 
discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with the law under 
the APA.

                   V. Evaluation of Regulatory Impact

    Pursuant to the requirements of paragraph 11(b) of rule 
XXVI of the Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee has 
considered the regulatory impact of this bill and determined 
that the bill will have no regulatory impact within the meaning 
of the rules. The Committee agrees with the Congressional 
Budget Office's statement that the bill contains no 
intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as defined in the 
Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and would impose no costs on 
state, local, or tribal governments.

             VI. Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                     Washington, DC, July 25, 2019.
Hon. Ron Johnson,
Chairman, Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, U.S. 
        Senate, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for S. 1419, the Early 
Participation in Regulations Act of 2019.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Matthew 
                                         Phillip L. Swagel,


    S. 1419 would amend the Administrative Procedures Act to 
require agencies to publish an Advance Notice of Proposed 
Rulemaking (ANPRM) for major rules in the Federal Register at 
least 90 days before publishing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking 
(NPRM). Under the bill, major rules would include all 
regulations that are likely to result in an annual effect on 
the economy of $100 million or more; a major increase in prices 
or costs for consumers, industry, government agencies or 
individual regions; or a significant effect on U.S. companies 
that compete with foreign companies.
    Based on an analysis of information provided by the 
Congressional Research Service and selected agencies on the 
current regulatory process, CBO estimates that the executive 
branch usually issues between 3,000 and 4,000 final rules each 
year, of which approximately 70 would be defined as major under 
the bill. Agencies seldom issue an ANPRM; however, CBO expects 
that most of the information needed to publish one also is 
needed for the NPRM. Based on the costs of preparing such 
notices and the necessary work to publish one additional 
notice, CBO estimates that producing approximately 70 ANPRMs 
would cost about $1 million a year. That spending would be 
subject to the availability of appropriated funds. 
Additionally, CBO expects that adding the requirement to 
publish an ANPRM would not significantly delay the 
implementation of final regulations.
    CBO expects that any change to the regulatory process, 
including more public involvement, could lead to changes in 
proposed and final rules. However, CBO has no basis to estimate 
any budgetary effects from such changes.
    Enacting the bill could affect direct spending by some 
agencies that are allowed to use fees, receipts from the sale 
of goods, and other collections to cover operating costs. CBO 
estimates that any net changes in direct spending by those 
agencies would be insignificant because most of them can adjust 
amounts collected to reflect changes in operating costs.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Matthew 
Pickford. The estimate was reviewed by H. Samuel Papenfuss, 
Deputy Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.

       VII. Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported

    In compliance with paragraph 12 of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, changes in existing law made by 
S. 1419 as reported are shown as follows (existing law proposed 
to be omitted is enclosed in brackets, new matter is printed in 
italic, and existing law in which no change is proposed is 
shown in roman):


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Subchapter II--Administrative Procedure

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


    (1) * * *

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

    (13) ``agency action'' includes the whole or a part of an 
agency rule, order, license, sanction, relief, or the 
equivalent or denial thereof, or failure to act; [and]
    (14) ``ex parte communication'' means an oral or written 
communication not on the public record with respect to which 
reasonable prior notice to all parties is not given, but it 
shall not include requests for status reports on any matter or 
proceeding covered by this subchapter[.];
    (15) ``major rule'' means any rule that the Administrator 
of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs determines 
is likely to impose--
          (A) an annual effect on the economy of $100,000,000 
        or more;
          (B) a major increase in costs or prices for 
        consumers, individual industries, Federal, State, 
        local, or tribal government agencies, or geographic 
        regions; or
          (C) significant effects on competition, employment, 
        investment, productivity, innovation, or on the ability 
        of United States-based enterprises to compete with 
        foreign-based enterprises in domestic and export 
        markets; and
    (16) ``Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs'' means 
the office established under section 3503 of title 44 and any 
successor to that office.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


    (a) * * *

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

    (f) Advance Notice of Proposed Rule Making for Major 
          (1) In general.--Except as provided in paragraph (3), 
        not later than 90 days before the date on which an 
        agency publishes a notice of proposed rule making for a 
        major rule in the Federal Register, the agency shall 
        publish an advance notice of proposed rule making for 
        the major rule in the Federal Register.
          (2) Requirements.--An advance notice of proposed rule 
        making published under paragraph (1) shall--
                  (A) include a written statement identifying, 
                at a minimum--
                          (i) the nature and significance of 
                        the problem the agency may address with 
                        a major rule, including any data or 
                        categories of data that the agency has 
                        identified as relevant or that the 
                        agency intends to consult for the 
                        proposed major rule;
                          (ii) a general description of 
                        regulatory alternatives under 
                        consideration; and
                          (iii) the legal authority under which 
                        a major rule may be proposed,
                  (B) solicit written data, views, and argument 
                from interested persons concerning the 
                information and issues addressed in the advance 
                notice; and
                  (C) provide for a period of not less than 30 
                days for interested persons to submit such 
                written data, views, or argument to the agency.
          (3) Exceptions.--This subsection shall not apply to a 
        major rule if--
                  (A) the agency proposing the major rule is 
                not required to publish a notice of proposed 
                rulemaking in the Federal Register for the 
                major rule under subparagraph (A) or (B) of 
                subsection (b);
                  (B) the Administrator of the Office of 
                Information and Regulatory Affairs determines 
                that complying with the requirements described 
                in this subsection--
                          (i) would not serve the public 
                        interest; or
                          (ii) would be duplicative of 
                        processes as rigorous and effective as 
                        those prescribed in paragraph (2) and 
                        would be unnecessary to ensure 
                        meaningful public participation; or
                          (iii) would not be practicable due to 
                        a statutory or court-imposed deadline; 
                  (C) the Administrator of the Office of 
                Information and Regulatory Affairs determines 
                that the major rule falls within a category of 
                major rules that are routine or periodic in 
          (4) Judicial review.--
                  (A) In general.--A determination made by the 
                Administrator of the Office of Information and 
                Regulatory Affairs in accordance with 
                subparagraph (B) or (C) of paragraph (3) shall 
                not be subject to judicial review.
                  (B) Arbitrary and capricious.--Any difference 
                between policies set forth in the written 
                statement of an agency under paragraph (2)(A) 
                the notice of proposed rule making shall not be 
                reviewable under section 706(2)(A).