Biden’s nominee for regulations czar heads to full Senate

The full Senate will consider the nominee to lead the small, but powerful regulatory office within OMB.

The full Senate will consider the nominee to lead the small, but powerful regulatory office within OMB. Douglas Rissing / Getty Images

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee voted 9-2 to report the nomination out of committee.

President Biden’s nomination to lead the small, but powerful regulatory office is going to the full Senate for a vote.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee voted 9-2 on Wednesday afternoon to report favorably out of committee Richard Revesz’s nomination to be administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, which oversees the regulatory process across the government, approves government information collections, establishes government statistical practices and coordinates federal privacy policy. 

Committee Chairman Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., said at a business meeting on Wednesday that the position has been “vacant for too long.” The Biden White House was way behind his predecessors in nominating an individual for the role. 

“A great deal of my academic work has been … supportive of the use of cost-benefit analysis,” Revesz, who was most recently the AnBryce Professor of Law and Dean Emeritus at the New York University School of Law, said during his confirmation hearing in September. “Executive Orders 12866 and 13563, which President Biden reaffirmed, made clear that the benefits of regulations must justify the costs and the regulation should maximize net benefits, except where precluded by statute.” He told senators he’s a fan of “evidence-based decision making” and doesn’t think cost-benefit analysis should be a Democratic or Republican practice, but rather used “in a fair and even-handed way.”

Revesz also noted that Office of Management and Budget Circular A-4, which serves as a roadmap for regulatory analysis, is almost 20 years old and said that, as Biden called for in his Day 1 memo on modernizing regulatory review, “Circular A4 should be updated to account for advances in scientific and economic understanding in how the costs and benefits of regulations affect the American people and are distributed across populations.” 

If confirmed, Revesz said his first action would be to receive an update from OIRA staff on progress so far on updating the circular and implementing the memo overall, and how to move forward on the president’s directive. 

Ahead of the confirmation hearing, six former OIRA administrators who are Democrats and Republicans (including President Trump’s) released a letter in support of Revesz, while acknowledging some of them have disagreed with him.

OIRA is housed with OMB, which last week announced it's looking to improve the public’s participation in the regulatory process and is hosting a public engagement session on Thursday. 

“Every day, agencies across the federal government work on policies that touch the lives of millions of Americans—from protecting the air we breathe, to keeping workers safe on the job, to making sure companies properly disclose fees to their customers—and regulations are one major way to do this,” said a blog post from OMB. “And we know that the regulatory process works best when we hear directly from members of the public, including traditionally underserved communities, and they have a say and a stake in their government.”

This article was published first on GovExec, a FederalSoup partner site ("Biden’s Nominee to Become the Regulations Czar Goes to the Full Senate.")

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