Senate Floats Regulatory “Capture” Proposal

During Wednesday’s Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) discussed his newly introduced “Regulatory Capture Prevention Act.”  Regulatory capture is defined as the ability of a powerful and well-funded special interest to control the federal agencies that regulate its activities.  The Whitehouse proposal would create a new investigative body within the Office of Management and Budget to investigate and report on such incidents.

“The office would ensure that abuses were not overlooked in the neglected corners of the regulatory system and would sound the alarm if a regulatory agency were showing the symptoms of capture,” according to Whitehouse.  The proposed legislation is designed to avert situations similar to those found in last year’s Minerals Management scandal.  The Regulatory Information Reporting Act (S 1339) would require agencies to report on a public website the name and affiliation of each party that comments on an agency regulation; whether that party affected the regulatory process; and whether that party is an economic, non-economic, or citizen interest.