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[Senate Report 115-120]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]


                                                      Calendar No. 157        
_______________________________________________________________________

                                                       

115th Congress }                                        {  Report
                                 SENATE
 1st Session   }                                        { 115-120 

       
       
       
       PROVIDING ACCOUNTABILITY THROUGH TRANSPARENCY ACT OF 2017

                               __________

                              R E P O R T

                                 of the

                   COMMITTEE ON HOMELAND SECURITY AND

                          GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS

                          UNITED STATES SENATE

                              TO ACCOMPANY

                                 S. 577

            TO REQUIRE EACH AGENCY, IN PROVIDING NOTICE OF A
RULE MAKING, TO INCLUDE A LINK TO A 100 WORD PLAIN LANGUAGE SUMMARY OF 
                           THE PROPOSED RULE


               [GRAPHIC(S) NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT]


                 June 28, 2017.--Ordered to be printed
                 
                                 ________
                       
                    U.S. GOVERNMENT PUBLISHING OFFICE
             
69-010                        WASHINGTON: 2017




        COMMITTEE ON HOMELAND SECURITY AND GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS

                    RON JOHNSON, Wisconsin Chairman
JOHN McCAIN, Arizona                 CLAIRE McCASKILL, Missouri
ROB PORTMAN, Ohio                    THOMAS R. CARPER, Delaware
RAND PAUL, Kentucky                  JON TESTER, Montana
JAMES LANKFORD, Oklahoma             HEIDI HEITKAMP, North Dakota
MICHAEL B. ENZI, Wyoming             GARY C. PETERS, Michigan
JOHN HOEVEN, North Dakota            MAGGIE HASSAN, New Hampshire
STEVE DAINES, Montana                KAMALA D. HARRIS, California

                  Christopher R. Hixon, Staff Director
                Gabrielle D'Adamo Singer, Chief Counsel
                   Satya P. Thallam, Chief Economist
               Margaret E. Daum, Minority Staff Director
               Stacia M. Cardille, Minority Chief Counsel
       Charles A. Moskowitz, Minority Senior Legislative Counsel
                 Katherine C. Sybenga, Minority Counsel
                     Laura W. Kilbride, Chief Clerk



                                                       Calendar No. 157

115th Congress }                                           {  Report
                                 SENATE
 1st Session   }                                           {  115-120

======================================================================



 
       PROVIDING ACCOUNTABILITY THROUGH TRANSPARENCY ACT OF 2017

                                _______
                                

                 June 28, 2017.--Ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

 Mr. Johnson, from the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental 
                    Affairs, submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                         [To accompany S. 577]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental 
Affairs, to which was referred the bill (S. 577) to require 
each agency, in providing notice of a rule making, to include a 
link to a 100 plain language summary of the proposed rule, 
having considered the same, reports favorably thereon with an 
amendment and recommends that the bill, as amended, do pass.

                                CONTENTS

                                                                   Page
  I. Purpose and Summary..............................................1
 II. Background and Need for the Legislation..........................2
III. Legislative History..............................................2
 IV. Section-by-Section Analysis......................................2
  V. Evaluation of Regulatory Impact..................................3
 VI. Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate........................3
VII. Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported............4

                         I. Purpose and Summary

    The Providing Accountability Through Transparency Act of 
2017 requires Federal agencies to include, as part of a notice 
of proposed rulemaking (NPRM), a link to a 100-word or less, 
plain language summary of the proposed rule. The summary itself 
will be made available on the website ``regulations.gov.''

              II. Background and the Need for Legislation

    The Administrative Procedure Act (APA)\1\ forms the 
procedural basis by which Federal agencies issue most 
regulations and other policies. The APA, which has been called 
the result of a ``fierce compromise,''\2\ is intended as a 
means to enable agencies to engage in policymaking while 
promoting the interests of those nongovernmental parties 
affected.\3\ Specifically, the procedure outlined in Section 
553 of the APA for so-called ``informal'' rulemaking 
``establishes the minimum procedural requirements''\4\ that 
agencies must observe for most regulations.\5\ Because 
regulations issued through such a process are generally 
considered legally binding, the APA formalizes a notice to the 
public of a forthcoming rule, and at that point establishes an 
early opportunity for the general public to submit comments.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \1\Pub. Law 79-404, 60 Stat. 237.
    \2\George B. Shepherd, ``Fierce Compromise: The Administrative 
Procedure Act Emerges from New Deal Politics,'' Northwestern University 
Law Review, Vol. 90, No. 4.
    \3\Id. 
    \4\Emily S. Bremer, ``A Primer on the Informal Rulemaking 
Process,'' Administrative Fix (blog), Administrative Conference of the 
United States, May 10, 2013, https://www.acus.gov/newsroom/
administrative-fix-blog/primer-informal-rulemaking-process.
    \5\5 U.S.C. Sec. 553
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    However, the public's ability to offer useful feedback 
through comments, especially parties who may not be experts in 
the particular subject of the rule, is dependent upon the 
clarity and simplicity of the proposal. Therefore, this bill 
offers a uniform and universally accessible standard for 
agencies to better communicate their intended policies to the 
public: a 100-word plain language summary made available by 
agencies at regulations.gov.

                        III. Legislative History

    Senator James Lankford (R-OK) introduced S. 577 on March 8, 
2017, with Senator James E. Risch (R-ID). The bill was referred 
to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. 
Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) later joined as a co-sponsor of the 
bill. The Committee considered S. 577 at a May 17, 2017 
business meeting.
    The Committee ordered S. 577 reported favorably on May 17, 
2017, by voice vote en bloc. Senators present were Senators 
Johnson, McCain, Portman, Paul, Lankford, Enzi, Hoeven, Daines, 
McCaskill, Tester, Heitkamp, Peters, Hassan, and Harris. 
Consistent with Committee Rule 11, the Committee reports the 
bill with a technical amendment by mutual agreement of the 
Chairman and Ranking Member.

        IV. Section-by-Section Analysis of the Bill, as Reported


Section 1. Short title

    This section provides the bill's short title, the 
``Providing Accountability Through Transparency Act of 2017.''

Section 2. Requirement to post a 100 word summary to regulations.gov

    This section amends the list of information required for 
inclusion when agencies issue a notice of proposed rulemaking 
to add that they also include a link to a 100-word or less 
summary of the proposed rule. The summary shall be posted to 
regulations.gov.

                   V. Evaluation of Regulatory Impact

    Pursuant to the requirements of paragraph 11(b) of rule 
XXVI of the Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee has 
considered the regulatory impact of this bill and determined 
that the bill will have no regulatory impact within the meaning 
of the rules. The Committee agrees with the Congressional 
Budget Office's statement that the bill contains no 
intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as defined in the 
Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) and would impose no costs 
on state, local, or tribal governments.

             VI. Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate

                                                      June 2, 2017.
Hon. Ron Johnson,
Chairman, Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, U.S. 
        Senate, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for S. 577, the Providing 
Accountability Through Transparency Act of 2017.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Matthew 
Pickford.
            Sincerely,
                                                        Keith Hall.
    Enclosure.

S. 577--Providing Accountability Through Transparency Act of 2017

    S. 577 would require agencies to post the Internet address 
of the website (regulations.gov), which would contain a summary 
of every rule the agencies propose. Under the bill, those 
summaries could not exceed 100 words in length. Executive 
Orders 12866, 13563, and the June 1, 1998, Presidential 
Memorandum on Plain Language require agencies to use plain 
language in all proposed and final rules. Thus, CBO expects 
that preparing the short summary of proposed rules under S. 577 
would have no significant cost.
    Enacting the bill would affect direct spending by agencies 
not funded through annual appropriations; therefore, pay-as-
you-go procedures apply. CBO estimates, however, that any net 
increase in spending by those agencies would not be 
significant. Enacting S. 577 would not affect revenues.
    CBO estimates that enacting S. 577 would not increase net 
direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four 
consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2028.
    S. 577 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and 
would not affect the budgets of state, local, or tribal 
governments.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Matthew 
Pickford. This estimate was approved by H. Samuel Papenfuss, 
Deputy Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.

       VII. Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported

    In compliance with paragraph 12 of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, changes in existing law made by 
S. 1820 as reported are shown as follows (existing law proposed 
to be omitted is enclosed in brackets, new matter is printed in 
italic, and existing law in which no change is proposed is 
shown in roman):

UNITED STATES CODE

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


TITLE 5--GOVERNMENT ORGANIZATION AND EMPLOYEES

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


PART I--THE AGENCIES GENERALLY

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *



CHAPTER 5--ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEDURE

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *



Subchapter II--Administrative Procedure

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *



SEC. 553. RULE MAKING

    (a) * * *

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

    (b) * * *
          (1) * * *
          (2) reference to the legal authority under which the 
        rule is proposed; [and]
          (3) either the terms or substance of the proposed 
        rule or a description of the subjects and issues 
        involved[.]; and
          (4) the Internet address of a summary of not more 
        than 100 words in length of the proposed rule, in plain 
        language, that shall be posted on the Internet website 
        under section 206(d) of the E-Government Act of 2002 
        (44 U.S.C. 3501 note) (commonly known as 
        regulations.gov).