03.04.21

Lankford Continues to Prioritize Government Transparency

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford reintroduced two bills, the Providing Accountability Through Transparency Act (PATTA) and the Guidance Clarity Act, which will help increase transparency of the federal rulemaking process for all Oklahomans, particularly small businesses. Lankford serves as Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Government Operations and Border Management.

PATTA would require the notice of a proposed rule by a federal agency to include the internet address of a summary of the rule. The summary must be 100 words or fewer, written in plain language, and posted on regulations.gov. The Guidance Clarity Act clarifies that federal agency guidance documents are not legally binding. The bill requires a brief statement at the beginning of all federal agency guidance documents that clearly tells the reader the guidance does not have the force and effect of law.

“Oklahoma small businesses have consistently shared their frustrations with the burdensome and confusing federal regulatory processes. To give a voice to their frustrations, I have consistently pushed practical ways to make our government more accountable and transparent,” said Lankford. “These two common-sense bills would help all Oklahomans who interact with the federal government have greater clarity and more transparency. I look forward to their consideration in the days ahead.”

Last Congress, Lankford’s PATTA passed the Senate by unanimous consent and was included as an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in July 2020 but was not included in the final version enacted into law.

Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), chair of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Subcommittee on Government Operations and Border Management, is a cosponsor of PATTA.

“Simplifying complicated rules and regulations helps make the federal government more accessible and accountable to everyday Arizonans and helps boost economic opportunities,” said Sinema.

Senators Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Jim Risch (R-ID) are cosponsors of the Guidance Clarity Act.

“These commonsense transparency measures have gained broad bipartisan support throughout the Senate in years past. I hope Chairman Peters and President Biden will support these non-controversial measures to increase transparency of the federal government for the American people,” said Johnson.

In October 2019 the Trump Administration issued Executive Order (EO) 13891 to require transparency in how federal guidance is issued and to ensure federal agencies are not using guidance documents as vehicles for creating law out of thin air. The Trump Administration later clarified how the EO should be implemented including deadlines for agencies in a follow-up memorandum. The Guidance Clarity Act would codify into law the long-held legal principle that guidance is not legally binding, clarifying what guidance is and what it isn’t.

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