Fox Tells Congress to Stop Agency Overreach
Montana Attorney General Tim Fox joined a coalition of 15 state attorneys general in urging Congress to rein in federal agencies that create and enforce regulations.
The letter, sent on July 11 to House and Senate leadership, explains federal agencies are acting outside of their congressionally delegated authority, circumventing the law by issuing binding rules in the guise of “guidance” documents, failing to consider the costs of regulations, and unnecessarily overriding existing state laws.
“In the last several years we’ve seen federal courts strike down or suspend a number of unilateral actions by federal agencies,” Fox said. “The courts have halted the so-called ‘clean power plan,’ the president’s executive action on amnesty for illegal immigrants, and the Waters of the U.S. regulations. Enough is enough. We are asking Congress to ensure federal agencies respect the rule of law and act only within their legal authority.”
Montana’s Senator Steve Daines is also calling for regulatory reform. “Congress should require more back-end accountability from bureaucrats in the rulemaking process to ensure individuals are not abused by the system, especially with the current administration’s misuse of power. I applaud Attorney General Fox for drawing attention to this important issue and 100% support much-needed regulatory reforms.”
One problem the letter highlights is the trend among agencies to make binding rules through so-called guidance documents. The letter cites the federal Administrative Procedures Act as requiring a notice and comment period for any change an agency wants to enact. This allows those affected to give their opinion and prepare.
Federal agencies have been avoiding this process with so-called guidance documents, which are meant to offer non-binding advice, but are increasingly being used to create new binding regulations and sanctions for those who don’t comply.
Federal agencies also are acting outside the bounds of their authority, and do not consider existing state law or the costs of regulation.
The letter explains that congressional action is needed because it can take years to block the unlawful initiatives in court, so long that many regulated entities will have spent significant time and money that they cannot get back.
Montana, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, Michigan, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wisconsin signed the letter.