The Congressional Review of Federal Trade Commission Rules--Matters for Congressional Consideration

HRD-82-56: Published: Apr 26, 1982. Publicly Released: Apr 26, 1982.

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The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Improvements Act of 1980 provides for congressional review of final rules promulgated by FTC. The Act requires that, before the end of the fiscal year, the Comptroller General submit a report to Congress. This interim report discusses some issues that Congress may wish to consider and is based upon examination of the rulemaking proceedings and other FTC records for the rules submitted to Congress for review.

GAO found that FTC has submitted only two rules for congressional review: the games-of-chance rule and the used car rule. The games-of-chance rule consisted of amendments to an existing rule. No resolution to disapprove these amendments was introduced before Congress adjourned. However, because 90 days of continuous sessions had not elapsed before the adjournment, FTC resubmitted the amendments. Again, no resolutions of disapproval were introduced; the congressional review period expired and the amendments became effective. The car rule was submitted and resolutions were introduced in both Houses to disapprove the rule and hearings were held to discuss the merits. However, a resolution of disapproval was not passed before the first session ended, after 86 days of continuous session from the date FTC submitted the rule for review. Since the 90-day review period was not completed, FTC resubmitted the rule during the second session of the same Congress. If both Houses do not adopt a concurrent resolution disapproving the rule, approximately 176 days will have been spent considering the resolution. The experience with these two rules suggests that some features of the congressional review mechanism may unnecessarily delay the effective date of FTC rules. To avoid unnecessary delays in the effective date of rules to which there is no congressional opposition, Congress may wish to consider revising the Act to provide that the review period will terminate after a short period of time if a concurrent resolution of disapproval is not introduced.

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