May, 2017

Reading Between the Lines: Regulatory Discretion in the Federal Railroad Administration

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The president, congress, interest groups, and bureaucracy all influence the production of regulation, but the size and limits of each group’s influence has not generally been measured. I add to this debate by quantifying channels of influence within one regulatory agency. By reviewing all 162 Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) rules issued between 1980 and 2015, I estimate the total amount of discretion in FRA rulemaking and the channel of influence “causing” each discretionary regulation. My results suggest that congress is an active participant but not a dominant player in discretionary rule making.