White House Points to One Shining Area of Success: Deregulation

By Cheryl Bolen

With few other legislative victories to show for President Donald Trump’s first few months in office, the White House is highlighting the president’s success in repealing nearly a dozen Obama-era regulations that would save $10 billion in regulatory costs over the next 20 years.

Trump inherited the biggest regulatory burden of any president in American history, Marc Short, assistant to the president and director of legislative affairs, told reporters at the White House.

“The president is keeping his promise to Americans to roll back that regulatory burden and as result, I believe that we’re helping to spur growth in the American economy,” Short said.

Companies such as Ford Motor Co., Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles NV, General Motors Co., Sprint Corp., SoftBank Group Corp., ExxonMobil Corp., Lockheed Martin Corp. and Carrier have said one of the reasons they are keeping jobs in the U.S. is because of the president’s commitment to signing legislation pulling back regulations, Short said.

Congressional Review Act

To date, Trump has signed 11 resolutions to repeal rules under the Congressional Review Act that were issued in the last half of 2016. And while the president hopes to sign at least four more, the window for repealing rules under the CRA closes at the end of April, Short said.

During his campaign, Trump promised to freeze regulations as well as require two regulations to be eliminated for every one issued—promises he has kept, Short said. Some of the CRA resolutions are not specific to jobs, but many of them are, he said.

In addition to CRA resolutions, the president has signed executive orders to review and potentially overturn Clean Power Plan and Waters of the U.S. rules, clear regulatory burdens on small businesses, lift the moratorium on coal leasing, reorganize and eliminate wasteful government agencies and give states flexibility in implementing the Affordable Care Act, Short said.

Corporate Payback

Lisa Gilbert, vice president of legislative affairs for Public Citizen, called the CRA resolutions “payback” for the corporate class that elected Republicans to Congress and the resolutions are designed to roll back measures that have overwhelming public support.

“We hope the press will cover the CRA’s usage because [the resolutions are] the only legislation of consequence the president has signed, it’s a fundamental betrayal of Trump’s promises to protect working families and it’s an escalation of the corrupt insider-dealing Trump campaigned against,” Gilbert said.

Late April 3, Trump signed H.J. Res. 34 to overturn a Federal Communications Commission rule that prevented internet service providers from tracking the online behavior of customers without their permission.

Although the White House called the rule “duplicative” and an additional layer of compliance for providers, there has been pushback from public interest groups that say popular consumer privacy protections have been erased.

No Position on CRA ‘Loophole.’

Separately, Republicans also may be able to exploit a potential “loophole” in the CRA. Under the statute, agencies must submit a report to Congress with details about the regulations they issue. In a few cases over the years, these reports were never formally transmitted to Congress and technically, the regulation might still be pending.

According to research by the American Action Forum, there are at least five major regulations with an estimated cost of $24 billion that were never transmitted to Congress—and dozens of other minor rules as well.

Andy Koenig, an assistant with the White House Legislative Affairs Senate staff team, said those staff members were looking into that, but guidance is needed from the Congressional Research Service.

“We haven’t weighed in one way or the other on that [loophole]—we’re focused on the ones that are clearly within the statute,” Koenig 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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