The Reagan administration signaled publicly yesterday that it would be willing to accept legislation giving Congress veto power over regulations issued by executive branch agencies so long as the president has a voice in the veto process.
Christopher DeMuth, the new administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs within the Office of Management and Budget, said the administration "would find acceptable" a broad legislative veto "provided the president would have some say over it, too."
Thus, the administration would not oppose any legislative veto that was implemented after both houses of Congress and the president approved a joint resolution, DeMuth said.
However, he indicated that the president would not accept legislation that allowed Congress to veto rules after both the House and Senate approved a concurrent resolution--one that the president didn't have any opportunity to review and approve or reject.
DeMuth's comments, made in a breakfast meeting with reporters, marked the first time the administration said it would be willing to accept some form of legislative veto for executive branch agencies. Previously, the administration had said it would accept congressional vetos--without any presidential role--for independent branch agencies that are not directly responsible to the president.
However, the administration always has vigorously opposed legislative vetos for executive branch decisions on the ground that they violated the separation of powers established by the Constitution.
It is doubtful, however, that Congress will be willing to go along with a veto provision acceptable to the White House. A compromise legis lative veto provision worked out by Sens. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.), David L. Boren (D-Okla.), Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa.) and Harrison Schmitt (R-N.M.) that excludes presidential participation has gained substantial support in the Senate.
The House, meanwhile, repeatedly and consistently has approved legislative veto provisions that permit only one house of Congress to veto a rule provided the other does not step in within 30 days to overturn the veto.
Those supporting legislative veto argue that it no longer becomes a congressional override once the president becomes involved.
Although the administration would accept a limited veto, DeMuth expressed concerns about the concept, saying it was an inadequate tool to cope with the problem of excessive and burdensome regulation. Congress "doesn't have the time to do good management," he said.
Like his predecessor, James C. Miller III, who just left the OMB to head the Federal Trade Commission, DeMuth said the OMB would not disclose its contacts with industry groups or with agency officials as many consumer groups have requested.
However, he did say the OMB soon would begin to "disclose in usable fashion summary information of what had been done."
It was not clear how detailed that information would be.