As its name implies, the proposal would build on the Regulatory Flexibility Act, which was passed more than three decades ago and included similar provisions intended to shield small companies from overly burdensome rules and restrictions. However, proponents of this latest proposal say government leaders have since found loopholes in the law that enable the bureaucracy to push through new rules without giving second thought to the potential harm to small firms.
“The one-size-fits-all approach to federal regulations has, for decades, hit small businesses, their owners, and their employees the hardest,” Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio), chairman of the House Small Business Committee, said when introducing the bill earlier this month.
Republicans have expressed a sense of urgency concerning the measure, noting that the Obama administration has been issuing new regulations at a rapid pace, and with his party now the minority in both chambers of Congress, some expect his use of executive authority to circumvent lawmakers will only accelerate over his final two years in office.
In the past week, the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council and the National Federation of Independent Business, both small business advocacy groups, have voiced support for the legislation. In the latter group’s latest national survey, small business owners ranked “government requirements and red tape” among the top issues facing their company.
“Regulatory uncertainty is a major concern for small businesses, directly impacting the ability to plan for future growth,” Dan Bosch, NFIB’s manager of regulatory policy, said in a statement backing the House bill. “While regulation is necessary, it should be pragmatic and sensible.”
The Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act is one of many bills that was passed through the Republican-controlled House during the last few years but was never taken up by Democrats in the Senate. Several of those measures are being put back in play, as Republicans believe they have a better shot now that they control both chambers to push the bills through to the White House and put pressure on the president to sign them into law.
One of the bills recently dusted off in the Senate seeks to curb over-regulation, too, but on a specific set of small businesses: new companies. The Startup Act, which Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) introduced for the fourth time earlier this month, would require federal officials to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the likely effects of proposed regulations on entrepreneurs and start-up businesses.
“I think we certainly have a greater opportunity to pass these bills with the new leadership in the Senate,” Chabot said in an interview on Tuesday, adding that he expects the House bill to reach the floor for a final vote as early as next week. “However, even with all Republicans in agreement on a bill, there will have to be bipartisan cooperation moving forward.”