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Slashing Red Tape

October 9, 2020
Column

In 2016, the last year of the Obama administration, 3,853 federal regulations were issued. While some regulations, such as those explaining how the executive branch will implement new laws or setting how much Medicare pays medical providers each year, are necessary, many merely pile new bureaucracy onto old in an effort to micromanage our nation from Washington. Fortunately, Congress has a mechanism to provide expedited consideration of disapproving of overreaching regulations, and in 2017 we passed and President Trump signed into law 14 bills repealing many of the most egregious overreaches of the outgoing Obama administration. The Trump Administration has also rolled back many of these regulations, such as Waters of the United States, or WOTUS, which we could not repeal legislatively because the resolutions were vetoed by President Obama.

Before the Trump administration, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce found federal regulations cost our economy almost $2 trillion annually, and one of the key factors helping our economy boom prior to the pandemic was the reversal of these regulations. If we are going to return to an economy of record strength as we defeat this disease, we should continue finding ways to roll back regulations which create more problems than solutions.

Because the burden of regulations became so clear under President Obama, in 2014, I created a program called Regulation Rewind to work toward addressing the problem. This issue was clear to President Trump as well, and when he first took office he directed his administration to find ways to roll back two burdensome regulations for every new regulation created. He has delivered on that promise, and since 2019, he has gone above and beyond, cutting nearly eight regulations for every significant one.

An expanded and restored infrastructure will also spur our economy. However, instead of just throwing money at the problem, we should be looking for ways to streamline the cumbersome approval procedures to save money and speed up the process. Burdensome regulations slow down infrastructure projects to a crawl and the most frequent offender is the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations. Enacted 50 years ago, NEPA has long been in need of modernization. I have cosponsored the BUILDER ACT, which would codify President Trump’s executive order to modernize and accelerate environmental reviews. This order implements a time limits of two years for completion of environmental impact statements and one year for the completion of environmental assessments. While two years is still a long time to wait for federal approval, this directive recognizes that communities shouldn’t be forced to wait on needed projects solely because federal bureaucrats can’t review paperwork in a timely fashion. It is time we give them flexibility to expand our nation’s infrastructure while still protecting the environment we all cherish.

In order to bring our economy back, we need all hands on deck. Cutting regulations and a bloated bureaucracy will drive us in the right direction and allow for more opportunities and investments. I am committed to easing the regulatory burdens impacting Nebraskans and people across the country.