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Ranking Member Nadler Opening Statement for the House Judiciary Committee Markup of H.R. 8296, The GAO Database Modernization Act

Today, Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler delivered the following opening statement, as prepared, for the House Judiciary Committee Markup of H.R. 8296, "The GAO Database Modernization Act":

"Mr. Chairman, the GAO Database Modernization Act would amend the Congressional Review Act to require federal agencies to report to the Government Accountability Office, or GAO, certain information about agency rules that are made ineffective due to an agency action or other reason.

The Congressional Review Act, or CRA, requires an agency to submit a report to both Houses of Congress and to GAO whenever it promulgates a rule.  This reporting requirement enables Congress to be kept regularly informed of rulemaking activity by all administrative agencies.

GAO has created a publicly accessible database tracking all rules submitted by the agencies.  However, agencies do not currently report updates, suspensions, or alterations of rules to GAO unless any modifications are part of a newly promulgated regulation.  In order to increase transparency, this legislation amends the CRA to require agencies to submit a report to GAO on rules that are revoked, suspended, amended, or otherwise made ineffective.

While I do not oppose this legislation, since it has very little effect, I do want to note that I have concerns with the underlying Congressional Review Act, and I hope that we will have an opportunity to examine whether the law is operating as intended.

The CRA, which provides a fast-track process whereby Congress can overturn an agency regulation, has become a favorite tool of the Republican Majority to undermine lifesaving regulations that protect public health and safety. 

Regulations take significant time, resources, public input and expertise to craft, but the CRA allows narrow partisan majorities in Congress to do away with them without any of the deliberative process that went into making them.  And because the CRA also prohibits an agency from issuing another rule “in substantially the same form” without congressional authorization, it allows Congress to tie an agency’s hands well into the future.

I will support this legislation as a modest improvement to oversight and transparency, but I hope that this is just the beginning of a larger conversation about the CRA and its impact on the regulatory process.

Thank you, and I yield back."

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