Inhofe hammers Obama administration for ignoring law, failing to publish regulatory agenda

Caroline May | Reporter

Sen. James Inhofe says that President Barack Obama broke the law by not publishing a regulatory agenda this year.

The Oklahoma Republican says that, under the Regulatory Flexibility Act, the White House is required to release a a list of regulatory activities that are planned or expected by the administration twice a year, specifically in both April and October. But in a letter to Obama on Thursday, Inhofe says the White House hasn’t published one since 2011.

“Timely publication of the semiannual regulatory agenda is important to promote predictability and reduce uncertainty,” Inhofe wrote to Obama. “Indeed, an accurate forecast of upcoming regulatory actions is important to affected businesses as well as state and local governments that, in many instances, share the burden of complying with federal mandates.”

In a Thursday morning appearance on Fox News’ Fox & Friends, Inhofe hammered the president on the cost of regulations, and said that he expects the president is waiting “until after the election” to reveal new ones.

“I would contend, I would argue, that the cost of these regulations is probably greater than servicing this $5.3 [trillion dollar] deficit that we got from him,” Inhofe said. “So we have been making an issue out of letting people know what these regulations are and what they will cost.“

Inhofe is not alone in his concern for regulatory transparency. Missouri Republican Rep. Sam Graves, the chairman of the Committee on Small Business, elaborated on the economic repercussions of keeping regulatory plans behind closed doors in a Tuesday op-ed.

“The law requires the Federal agencies to reveal their regulatory plans twice a year, but since this administration is content to ignore the Regulatory Flexibility Act, these plans have not been offered, and small businesses are left to expect the worst,” Graves wrote. “Planning for the worst does not entail investing, growing, or hiring. So, our economy remains stagnant.”

In late August, Ohio Republican Rob Portman penned a letter requesting the administration’s spring 2012 regulatory agenda, which is due in April or early May.

“President Obama promised the most transparent administration in history, but he has failed to comply with the basic duty to publish plans for new regulations, as required by federal law,” Portman said in a statement at the time. “Concerns about bad press in an election year are no excuse for keeping these plans under wraps.”

Inhofe, the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works and one of Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency’s biggest critics, has in recent months been sounding the alarm on the tidal wave of environmental regulations he believes the EPA will impose after the election. In a report last week, he speculated what these new regulations might be.

“The bottom line however, is that running for election is no excuse for failing to comply with the law,” Inhofe said in a statement. “President Obama owes the American public not only a full explanation on why he has failed to comply with the law, but the honest truth about the regulatory onslaught coming in a second term.”

Inhofe demanded in his letter that the administration adhere to its next deadline and publish the plans this month.

This article was updated after publication to reflect that Portman requested the Obama administration’s regulatory agenda for spring 2012, not spring 2011.

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