Congress Continues Focus on Regulatory Reform

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U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), Chairman, Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Reform

On June 23, the U.S. Senate Committees on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs (HSGA) and Budget held a joint hearing continuing the effort to move the federal government toward an efficient and accountable regulatory system. For the past few weeks, House and Senate committees of varying jurisdictions have been exploring ways to balance and maintain necessary regulations while reigning in federal regulatory overreach and costs.

U.S. Senate HSGA Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-WI) issued a statement saying, “Congress needs to find ways to force the federal government to be explicit about the economic costs it imposes on the country, offer incentives to agencies seeking continuous improvement of their existing rules and costs, and put Congress on the hook for authorizing regulatory costs.”

Senator Johnson is leading efforts in Congress to take more control over the regulatory system and find ways to measure results and cost efficiency. Typically, Congress enacts authoring laws that are merely frameworks. This allows regulatory agencies the flexibility to promulgate rules and regulations. But, in some cases the agency goes beyond congressional intent and implements unnecessary and oftentimes overly restrictive rules.

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The Honorable Tony Clement, President of the Treasury Board of Canada

During the hearing, testimony was received from the Honorable Tony Clement, President of the Treasury Board of Canada.  Mr. Clement is a senior Cabinet official and has served in this position for the past four years. He also serves on the Cabinet Committee on Priorities and Planning, which is led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

In his capacity as President of the Treasury Board Clement spearheads the development and implementation of a cross-government spending review that is looking at ways to support and deliver services to taxpayers in the most effective and efficient means possible. Clement is leading Canada’s effort to reduce federal red tape – an issue that Prime Minister Harper refers to as “the silent job killer.”

In April of 2015 the Canadian Parliament enacted the Red Tape Reductions Act, that places strict controls on the growth of regulations on businesses through implementation of a “one-for-one” policy. Specifically, it requires that regulatory changes which increase administrative burden costs be offset with equal reductions in administrative burden.  Additionally, ministers of Canada’s federal government departments are required to remove at least one regulation each time they introduce a new one that imposes administrative burden costs on business.

The results are proven.  “As of May 20th of this year, the rule has saved Canadian businesses about $32 million (Cdn.) in administrative burden.  This represents an estimated reduction of almost 750,000 man hours annually in time spent by businesses dealing with regulatory red tape,” according to Clement’s testimony.

One other interesting aspect of Canada’s efforts to reduce administrative burden on businesses is their Red Tape Reduction Action Plan.  This Plan starts by taking an inventory of requirements in federal regulations and associated forms that impose administrative burdens on business and establishes a baseline of the number of regulation on the books.   This “Administrative Burden Baseline” count will contribute to the openness of Canada’s federal regulatory system as they publicly report this information every year in monitoring and reporting on regulatory red tape. By the end of 2014, Canada had calculated a total of 129,860 federal requirements in regulations and related forms that can impact Canadian businesses across different sectors and industries.

The Administration Burden Baseline coupled with the one-for-one policy will allow Canada to fully comprehend their regulatory efficiency, effectiveness and cost burdens and their impacts on business.  Moreover, Canada’s promulgation rules require 24-month advance notice and gives the opportunity for stakeholders to dialogue with officials of regulatory agencies.

While Canada makes progress in improving their regulatory systems some U.S. federal agencies are providing leadership and working alongside them to perfect, develop and model regulatory systems based on Canada’s success.  For instance the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has joined with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Food Safety Inspection Service, the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Transportation, Occupation Safety and Inspection Service and the Department of Energy to engage their Canadian counterparts to improve our regulatory cooperation and enhance economic competitiveness while maintaining high standards when it comes to health, safety, and the environment.

According to the Congressional Research Service the U.S. and Canada “conduct the world’s largest bilateral trade relationship.” In the chart below combined trade of total merchandise (exports and imports) in 2014 exceeded $660 billion.

Data: U.S. Census Bureau, Foreign Trade – U.S. Trade with Canada

2014 : U.S. trade in goods with Canada

NOTE: All figures are in millions of U.S. dollars on a nominal basis, not seasonally adjusted unless otherwise specified.Details may not equal totals due to rounding.

Month Exports Imports Balance
January 2014 22,572.0 27,634.8 -5,062.8
February 2014 23,419.5 25,998.3 -2,578.8
March 2014 27,104.1 29,963.1 -2,859.0
April 2014 26,605.7 29,165.4 -2,559.7
May 2014 27,370.0 30,078.0 -2,708.0
June 2014 27,583.5 30,035.9 -2,452.4
July 2014 26,174.1 29,158.1 -2,984.1
August 2014 26,409.4 28,957.9 -2,548.5
September 2014 26,706.3 30,671.5 -3,965.1
October 2014 28,303.4 30,534.0 -2,230.6
November 2014 25,438.6 26,905.5 -1,466.9
December 2014 24,734.3 28,695.5 -3,961.2
TOTAL 2014 312,420.8 347,798.0 -35,377.2

Specific to the U.S Department of Agriculture, their involvement in the U.S. – Canada Regulatory Cooperation Council (RCC) helps facilitate U.S. exports of agricultural products to Canada that totaled $21.3 billion in 2013, our 2nd largest U.S. ag export market. Specific products that can benefit from such regulatory cooperation includes but is not limited to: prepared food ($1.9 billion), fresh vegetables ($1.8 billion), fresh fruit ($1.8 billion), snack foods ($1.3 billion), and non-alcoholic beverages ($1.2 billion).

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)

Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) a member of the HSGA Committee took the opportunity to discuss with Tony Clement her recent and similar experience while  working on the Senate Agriculture Committee and passing the 2014 Farm Bill.  Stabenow, who is Ranking Member of the Agriculture Committee told Clement that the Farm Bill passed last year by Congress actually eliminated 100 different authorizations or programs that did not work.  The Committee consolidated programs and eliminated duplication saving about $23 billion dollars according to Stabenow.

Cansler Consulting government relations lobbyistsIf you need quality representation from an entrepreneurial lobbying firm contact Cansler Consulting. We are a certified lobbying practice that is experienced in the multi-faceted and inter-related industries of AgricultureBiotechnologyFood and Drug SafetyTransportation & InfrastructureInternational Trade and Energy. Through our congressional and regulatory relationships established for over two decades we can help you influence the policy makers on Capitol Hill and navigate the federal budgeting process. You can contact us at or at (202) 220-3150.

Tim Cansler