A House Appropriations subcommittee voted yesterday to cut off the $5.4 million budget of the president's regulatory review staff in the Office of Management and Budget.
OMB Director James C. Miller III said in an interview that he had told Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.) that the effort to "defund" the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) will not succeed.
If Dingell cuts off funds for OIRA, Miller said, "we will do it in the White House. If you take the office out of the White House, we will do it in the Justice Department. If you take the office out of the Justice Department, we will do it in Commerce.
"This is a matter of the president's constitutional power and authority," Miller said, adding that the president has the power to conduct regulatory reviews, and "indeed, he has the responsibility."
Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Dingell, Government Operations Committee Chairman Jack Brooks (D-Tex.) and Appropriations Committee Chairman Jamie L. Whitten (D-Miss.) have led a longstanding effort to cut off OIRA funds on grounds that OMB is exceeding its authority by "second-guessing" regulatory agencies.
OMB reviews proposals by the regulatory agencies to determine if they are burdensome, duplicative or conflicting and to make sure the benefits of each regulation outweigh its costs. OIRA has no specific congressional mandate.
The treasury, postal service and general government appropriations subcommittee chaired by Rep. Edward R. Roybal (D-Calif.) agreed by voice vote in closed session yesterday to go along with the "defunding" effort.