On the heels of the controversial recess appointment of Susan Dudley to become the administration's regulatory czar, President Bush re-submitted the nomination in order to ensure that she can receive a salary.
After the nomination stalled in the then-Republican controlled Senate in 2006, the president gave Dudley a recess appointment in April, which allows her to occupy the office of administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) throughout the remainder of the Bush administration.
The White House was forced to resubmit the nomination within 40 days of the Senate's return from the spring recess, however, in order to ensure that Dudley can be paid a salary as OIRA administrator under section 5503(a) of title 5 of the U.S. Code.
Resubmitting the nomination means that Dudley will once again be up for a confirmation hearing in the Senate and, barring any holds, a final vote on her suitability for this powerful office.
Dudley’s Radical Record
Public Citizen has documented the concerns of the public interest community at our Eye on Dudley feature. In a major report coauthored with OMB Watch, Public Citizen examined Dudley’s record and concluded she is unfit for this position. Among our concerns:
- Throughout her career, Dudley has consistently fought against government safeguards and advocated a radical, hands-off approach to regulating corporations. As director of regulatory studies at the industry-funded Mercatus Center, Dudley has sought to strike down countless environmental, health, and safety safeguards, such as the following:
- EPA’s attempts to keep arsenic out of drinking water and lower levels of disease-causing smog,
- NHTSA’s life-saving air bag regulations, and
- the Department of Transportation’s hours-of-service rules to keep sleep-deprived truck drivers off the roads.
- Dudley comes to this powerful office with a radical agenda that would destroy the federal government’s ability to protect the public. At Mercatus, Dudley has advocated radical policies such as regulatory sunsets, or mandatory expiration dates for all protective standards, which would force agencies to plea for the continuation of critical safeguards. She also supports regulation-stalling techniques that induce “paralysis by analysis,” such as wanting federal agencies to wait to impose rules until near-perfect estimates of the precise causes and effects of the hazards to be regulated are known. Collecting this secondary information can take years, during which the public will continue to be put at risk.
An OIRA administrator with such an extreme ideological hostility to regulation would undercut safeguards needed to ensure the health and safety of the public and to protect the environment.
Dudley was evasive about her record during the November 2006 confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Some of her statements were quite misleading; among them:
- She tried to avoid responsibility for asserting that there is no justification for the Davis-Bacon Act. When confronted with such a controversial position on this major protection for workers, Dudley tried to evade her statements about Davis Bacon overall by attributing them to the GAO. Only after repeated question did Dudley concede that she actually believed what she had written.
- She evaded questioning about her support for the “senior death discount,” or measures of regulatory benefits that assign lower values to the lives of the old than to the lives of the young. Dudley denied having supported any senior death discount measure other than using life-year measures. The facts are different: in her comments to EPA on its rule to lower the levels of arsenic in the drinking water, she argued that its benefits were “overstate[d],” and that EPA could correct that overstatement with “sensitivity that estimates benefits based on a value per life-year saved, or an age-adjusted value per life.” An “age-adjusted value per life” means precisely assigning different cash figures to lives based on age.
- She downplayed her criticism of NHTSA’s historic decision in 2003 to raise fuel economy for light trucks — a decision she called “the worst rule of 2003” — by adding that she had criticized only NHTSA’s analysis of the rule, not the larger enterprise of improving fuel economy. In fact, her comments in a Washington Post column raised objections to the fuel economy program in its entirety: “NHTSA continues to force vehicle manufacturers to achieve higher miles per gallon than the market would offer, or consumers would choose, in the absence of the regulation.”
 John Charles Bradbury & Susan E. Dudley, Regulatory Studies Program Comments on Department of Labor, Employment Standards Administration, Wage and Hour Division Procedures for Predetermination of Wage Rates; Labor Standards Provisions Applicable to Contracts Covering Federally Financed and Assisted Construction and to Certain Nonconstruction Contracts; Proposed Rule at App.I-1 (“There is no economic justification for a federal role in defining construction practices and determining wages, as required by the Davis-Bacon Act.”), available at <http://www.mercatus.org/repository/docLib/MC_RSP_PIC1999-05_DOL-Davis-Bacon_990608.pdf >.
Susan E. Dudley, Public Interest Comment on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Request for Comments on National Drinking Water Regulations for Arsenic 4 (Oct. 31, 2001), available at <http://mercatus.org/repository/docLib/MC_RSP_PIC2001-14EPA-Arsenic_011031.pdf> (emphasis added).
Cindy Skrzycki, 2003’s Bouquets and Brickbats (The Envelope, Please), Wash. Post (2003).