Placing 'REINS' on Regulations: Assessing the Proposed REINS Act
January 1, 2007
This article by Jonathan H. Adler of the Case Western Reserve University School of Law examines the REINS Act and its likely effects on regulatory policy.
Over the past several decades, the scope, reach and cost of federal regulations have increased dramatically, prompting bipartisan calls for regulatory reform. One such proposed reform is the Regulations From the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act (REINS Act). This proposal aims to restore political accountability to federal regulatory policy decisions by requiring both houses of Congress to approve any proposed “major rule.” In effect, the REINS Act would limit the delegation of regulatory authority to federal agencies, and restore legislative control and accountability to Congress. This article seeks to assess the REINS Act and its likely effects on regulatory policy. It explains why constitutional objections to the proposal are unfounded and many policy objections overstate the REINS Act’s likely impact on the growth of federal regulation. The REINS Act is not likely to be the deregulatory blunderbuss feared by its opponents and longed for by some of its proponents. The REINS Act should be seen more as a measure to enhance accountability than to combat regulatory activity.