What GOP Regulatory Reform Really Means

Peter M. Shane, Ohio State University

Thanks to administrative regulation, Americans breathe cleaner air, drink cleaner water, drive safer cars, work in safer environments, and have fairer and more secure access to education, housing, employment, telecommunications, and the ballot box. Regulations help protect consumers and investors from fraudulent and unfair practices in trade and finance. Now, Congressional Republicans want to virtually shut down all regulatory efforts. 

In an insightful explainer in The Atlantic, SSNer Peter Shane lays out the history and proper function of regulations and breaks down the complexities of the “Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act of 2017” (called the REINS Act) and the “Regulatory Accountability Act of 2017” (called RAA). Passed by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives in early January, both of these measures would take radical steps to undercut the regulatory capacities of the U.S. federal government.

The mechanisms used by various government agencies to propose, enact, and follow through on regulations are complicated and not often clearly discussed in popular media. As Shane makes clear, the GOP is counting on citizens’ disinterest and confusion to pass laws that would roll back important health, safety, and financial protections and hamstring agencies charged with creating evidence-based policies. “What is at stake,” he points out, “are regulations and a regulatory process that Americans have long depended on for their safety and well-being.”


Peter Shane is the Jacob E. Davis and Jacob E. Davis II Chair in Law at Ohio State University and co-chair of Ohio SSN. He is an expert in constitutional and administrative law (with special focus on separation of powers, federalism, and equality issues), as well as policy issues at the intersection of law, public policy, and media.


January 2017