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

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.

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