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Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Legislating After the Fall of Chevron Deference

  number of posts have discussed congressional capacitylegislative productivity, and deliberation.

Michael Macagnone at Roll Call:

A Supreme Court decision Friday left an uncertain and more difficult path for Congress to shape how the federal government carries out laws on major issues such as environment, health, immigration and more, lawmakers and legal experts said. The opinion overturned a long-standing legal doctrine called Chevron deference, which required judges to defer to an agency’s interpretation when it comes to regulations about laws that are ambiguous.

Congress might have to pass more detailed laws in the future.

Just getting those new laws written could be a heavy lift, according to J.D. Rackey, a senior policy analyst at the Bipartisan Policy Center and former staff member on the House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress. Rackey said Congress doesn’t currently have the staff or technical expertise to write more fine-tuned legislation. Frequently, committees don’t have enough staff or in-depth policy knowledge to write the kind of specific legislation that would survive the scrutiny of the current Supreme Court. “Even if you want a smaller government, if you want government to do anything, this ruling requires Congress to be much more proscriptive and to have the capacity to do so,” Rackey said. “Outside of the larger policy goals that any one party might have, any future lawmaking is going to be impacted with this decision.” Rackey pointed out that the House has recently “come around” to the idea that Congress doesn’t have the technical expertise to write rules, and he pointed to the more than 200 recommendations from the select modernization panel he worked on. Many of those have been implemented, he said, but “not enough to reckon with this reality. But it does set the institution on a path to being able to grapple with it. The process of writing legislation itself would also get more complicated, Rackey said, as legislators could no longer rely on agencies to make potentially fraught decisions. Getting to final results could mean longer negotiations, more tough votes, more days in Washington and more resources for members and staff.

Time to bring back the Office of Technology Assessment.