Russian-American lobbyist was at Trump Jr. meeting
WASHINGTON — It typically takes years for presidents to kill federal regulations they dislike, but Donald Trump has found a shortcut: He’s just putting them on long-term hold.
The Trump administration has stalled more than two dozen Obamaera rules, a legally questionable tactic that sidesteps the cumbersome rulemaking process.
Presidents from both parties routinely pause their predecessors’ rules, but Trump’s delays are lasting longer and reaching further — with targets including protections for student borrowers, standards for e-cigarettes, and an expansion of requirements that airlines report lost luggage. In one instance, a federal court found the approach illegal, providing fodder for future challenges.
“Obama did it to Bush. Bush did it to Clinton,” said Stuart Shapiro, a Rutgers University professor who served as a White House regulatory analyst under presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. “But the extent of the regulations that we’re talking about, and the political importance and the impact, is greater in the Trump administration.”
Federal agencies have wide latitude to rewrite and rescind rules, but they must follow the Administrative Procedure Act, a 71-year-old law that sets out a process designed to prevent regulatory whiplash. Agencies must first formally propose revisions, justify them and give the public a chance to weigh in. Relatively small tweaks, such as a delay, can advance more quickly — but generally still require a formal notice and comment period.
Trump has moved aggressively to fulfill his promise to repeal “jobkilling rules.” He issued an order requiring two rules be spiked for each one created and capped the cost of new regulations.
“We’re working very hard to roll back the regulatory burden so that coal miners, factory workers, small business owners and so many others can grow their businesses and thrive,” Trump said while signing an executive order addressing the issue in February.
Supporters of Trump’s approach say the president is just doing what he promised by taking on overzealous regulations. The goal of trying to align government with a president’s own philosophy “is hardly uncommon,” said Dan Goldbeck, a research analyst specializing in regulations at the conservative-leaning American Action Forum.
The effort isn’t an attempted wholesale undoing of Obama-era rules, Goldbeck said. “I think the intention is to dive back into them and see if they can tweak them — and not necessarily chop them entirely,” he said.
Trump’s EPA is following the law in ensuring its “actions are consistent with our core mission and statutory authority granted by Congress,” spokeswoman Amy Graham said. “Where regulations may be unjustified or overly burdensome, we will consider all legally available means to provide regulatory certainty,” Graham said.
In some cases, the administration is buying time for possible rule rewrites, as with an Agriculture Department regulation governing the treatment of organically raised livestock. The department delayed the measure’s effective date by eight months and announced it was launching a formal effort to rewrite the regulation.
Former President Barack Obama smiles on April 24 at the Logan Center for the Arts on the University of Chicago campus.