A potential roadblock to Reagan administration hopes for sweeping cutbacks in government regulation is Congress' desire to give itself and courts more control over federal agencies.
Administration officials are particularly concerned about congressional efforts to enact a legislative veto statute, which would allow Congress to overturn agency actions quickly, and the so-called Bumpers amendment, which would expand powers of courts to evaluate new federal regulations from their origin.
Either plan could hamper the administrative's ability to curb federal regulation, some high-level White House officials say.
The legislative veto would strengthen congressional power to overturn actions by federal regulatory agencies by permitting either or both houses to veto new regulations. The legislative veto power historically -- and only occasionally -- has been used on narrow executive actions, such as pay raises for bureaucrats or reorganization plans. But congressional interest in curbing government regulation has led to several proposals to broaden the powers to apply to all agency rule-making.
President Reagan endorsed the legislative veto during his presidential campaign, and other Reagan aides support the concept. During his confirmation hearings last month, budget director David A. Stockman called the legislative veto an "imperative, necessary idea."
Nevertheless, some White House officials worry that enactment of the veto plan could force administration officials to negotiate regulatory initiatives with members of Congress piece by piece, hampering their ability to make dramatic changes in specific regulations.
They also fear the Bumpers proposal, named for Sen. Dale Bumpers (D-Ark.), which is generally endorsed in the Republican platform, could be used by the environmental movement, for example, to tie up Reagan efforts to roll back costly regulatory programs.
Bumpers introduced his controversial amendment early last month, saying the legislation, the administrative procedure act amendments, "directs the courts to play a more active role in policing regulatory power" by examining the statutes that give an agency the authority to regulate.
Supporters of the Bumpers plan, which has been considering in both the House and Senate since 1979, say the amendment's legislative history makes clear that Bumpers' intent is to prevent agencies from exceeding their legal mandate.
Some administration officials see congressional efforts on another front as posing another potential roadblock to the new administration's antiregulation drive: several key members of Congress support a proposal that would strengthen the role of the Office of Management and Budget in monitoring regulatory activities.
"I don't think Congress should tell the administration how to organize itself," said Boyden Gray, counsel to Vice President Bush's top-level task force on regulatory activities.
Regulatory legislation is likely to receive quick attention from this Congress, and it seems more likely than earlier sessions to push the legislation. "I think we'll get going very quickly because the economic impact of regulatory reform legislation will take some time to realize," said a congressional source.
The Carter administration pushed in 1980 a package of measures that would have written into law key sections of a Carter executive order that forced agencies to outline regulatory plans and to make better use of cost-benefit analyses in adopting new rules.
But that effort bogged down as the administration's power waned, and a debate between the Senate Judiciary and Governmental Affairs committees prevented legislation from reaching the Senate floor.
It is expected the Reagan administration will either submit proposals or do so jointly with Sen. Paul Laxalt (R-Nev.), chairman of a new Senate Judiciary subcommittee on regulatory reform and possibly Reagan's closest ally on Capitol Hill.
A Laxalt bill would likely adopt a tough cost-benefit test for new regulations and might also include a system of forcing periodic congressional review of agency rules and some form of OMB oversight of regulatory activity.
On the House side, Rep. George E. Danielson (D-Calif.), chairman of a House Judiciary subcommittee on administrative law and governmental regulations, has introduced a regulatory reform package similar to one passed by his subcommittee last year. It was never adopted by the full Judiciary panel.