Trump Signs Order to Enforce Regulatory Agenda

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By Cheryl Bolen

President Donald Trump signed an executive order that will establish regulatory reform officers and task forces within agencies to implement the regulatory policies of this and past presidents.

“Excessive regulations are killing jobs, driving companies out of our country like never before,” Trump said at a signing ceremony. “This executive order is one of many ways we’re going to get real results when it comes to removing job-killing regulations and increasing economic opportunity.”

Trump signed the order with a dozen or more CEOs standing behind him, from blue chip companies including 3M Co., Lockheed Martin Corp., Dow Chemical Co. and Archer Daniels Midland Co.

“This is sort of a way to structure the implementation or enforcement of various regulatory reform initiatives,” a senior White House official told Bloomberg BNA Feb. 23. “In addition to highlighting objectives, we needed a way to be able to operationalize and execute on those.”

Officer on the Beat

The order, “Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda,” includes a set of procedural steps for each agency to begin to implement the regulatory policy changes that Trump has identified, the official said. It also references past executive orders from previous administrations that presidents from both parties have issued, but have not been fully implemented.

The order contains two major directives, the official said. First, it directs the heads of departments and agencies to designate an agency official as a “regulatory reform officer,” or someone to oversee the implementation of regulatory initiatives and policies to make sure the department or agency is effectively carrying them out.

This order references several past orders on regulatory policies, including the most recent ( E.O. 13771) signed by Trump—which requires agencies to eliminate two regulations for every one they want to issue—but also previous orders, such as one signed by former President Barack Obama requiring retrospective review.

“So this executive order notes some of those executive orders that are already in force and ties them to the mandate and the accountability of these regulatory reform officers,” the official said.

Task Force to Eliminate Rules

The second major directive will require each agency to establish a “regulatory reform task force” that should include the regulatory reform officer as its chairman, the official said.

These agency task forces will evaluate existing regulations and make recommendations to their agency heads about repeal, rescission, replacement or modification of the regulations on the books.

“So in a sense, it’s almost tasking these regulatory reform task forces with a form of retrospective review that will be useful for one-in, two-out, and consistent with prior executive orders,” the official said.

The order will establish the categories on which the task forces should base these evaluations and recommendations, such as regulations that eliminate jobs or inhibit job creation, or regulations with costs that now exceed their benefits, or that are outdated, unnecessary, technologically unfeasible or ineffective, the official said.

The task forces will have 90 days to report to their agency heads identifying regulations for rescission, replacement or modification and also detailing the agency’s progress towards improving implementation of their regulatory initiatives, the official said.

Public Interest Groups Balk

Amit Narang, regulatory policy advocate at Public Citizen’s Congress Watch Division, said that with this latest executive order, the Trump administration is doubling down on its dangerous anti-regulatory efforts and making clear that big business is in charge of government.

“The EO will install Trump’s hand-picked deregulatory henchmen in agencies throughout our government and empower them to hack away at critical public protections,” Narang said.

Because every administration going back to former President Ronald Reagan has conducted agency-wide retrospective reviews, the administration’s picture of widespread unnecessary regulation is simply wrong, Narang said.

Public health, safety, consumer and environmental safeguards are essential or need to be strengthened, Narang said. By focusing on deregulation, Trump’s task forces threaten regulations that provide critical benefits and protections to American workers, consumers and families, he said.

Boosting Business Confidence

In contrast, Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management, applauded the president’s action.

“Retrospective review of agency regulations is not a new concept; in fact, President Obama ordered agencies to do something similar during his eight-year tenure,” Lankford said.

Yet, the subcommittee quickly found that agencies didn’t take retrospective review seriously, Lankford said. “This new action adds some teeth to retrospective review by putting processes in place and holding agencies accountable,” he said.

Advocates for the business community uniformly expressed strong support.

“Business owners from all sectors and industries have acknowledged that red tape sows uncertainty and holds back investment and innovation,” said U.S. Chamber of Commerce Senior Vice President and Chief Policy Officer Neil Bradley. “We appreciate that the Trump administration is tackling the regulatory state head on.”

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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