CRA Resolutions Are Small Part of Trump Regulatory Policy

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By Cheryl Bolen

President Donald Trump signed two more resolutions, for a total of 13 resolutions, to overturn rules issued in the last half of 2016 using the Congressional Review Act, a historic first for any president but affecting only a tiny fraction of the regulatory burden.

A total of 2,737 regulations were finalized from 2009 to 2016 in the Obama administration. More than 600 were considered major rules, according to a database kept by the American Action Forum.

The president hopes to sign two more resolutions before the window closes on use of the CRA, probably in late April or early May. The House passed two resolutions (H.J. Res. 36, H.J. Res. 66) in February, but the Senate has not taken up either measure.

Still, even if all 15 resolutions were signed into law, it would represent only a 0.5 percent reduction in the number of regulations issued by the Obama administration alone.

CRA Small Part of Policy

Trump sees signing CRA resolutions as fulfilling a campaign promise, said Marc Short, White House director of legislative affairs, at an April 5 press briefing.

“We said [regulation] is something that is crippling the American economy and we’re going to address it, and this is one of the vehicles through which we’re addressing it,” Short said.

Overturning regulations under the CRA, however, is just a small part of the administration’s regulatory policy.

Trump started with a temporary moratorium on new agency regulations and then issued an executive order that directed that for every new regulation issued, two old regulations must be eliminated. He also ordered every agency to prepare a list of all its regulations and identify those that are unnecessary.

Looking Ahead

Now, the administration’s focus is likely to turn toward implementing the two executive orders, said Marcus Peacock, who just left a temporary position at the Office of Management and Budget and became executive vice president at the Business Roundtable.

“I think there’s a recognition that it’s one thing to issue directions but quite another to execute them,” Peacock told reporters in an April 13 webinar hosted by the George Washington University. “These are significant executive orders, particularly the one-in, two-out,” he said.

The administration needs to spend the time and resources to implement the orders carefully, Peacock said.

Waiting for New Administrator

OMB will issue its required regulatory agenda in the spring, which will track new regulations and also existing regulations on the way out, Peacock said. The agenda will manage the slate of regulations.

The president also has announced his intention to nominate Neomi Rao as administrator of OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), which reviews significant federal regulations. Rao must be confirmed by the Senate.

“I would suspect, although I don’t know, that there might not be any other major process changes until Neomi is confirmed . . . so that she can participate as the expert she is in this area and help in any future policy changes,” Peacock said.

Task Force Reports

On Feb. 24, Trump signed an executive order to establish Regulatory Reform Officers and Regulatory Reform Task Forces in each agency to enforce the one-in, two-out policy. Task forces are to be established within 60 days of the date of the order, or by April 25.

Within 90 days, or by May 25, the task forces are required to report to their agency heads on their progress, including identifying regulations for repeal, replacement or modification.

It is likely that some agencies will issue notices requesting ideas from the public, Peacock said. The Environmental Protection Agency published a Federal Register Notice April 13 asking businesses, nonprofit groups and others to comment on what rules disproportionately impose costs, hurt job creation, are outdated or otherwise are inconsistent with this administration’s recent actions. However, agency reports are unlikely to be made public until they are reviewed, he said.

Further, this initial report will not be the only report, but the start of a “living list” of ideas for deregulatory actions, Peacock said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Cheryl Bolen in Washington at cbolen@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Hendrie at pHendrie@bna.com

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