Derugulatory Frenzy

Trump Has Stopped or Delayed More Than 1,500 Rulemakings, Including Those to Protect Workers From Mine Disasters, Combustible Dust Explosions and Backover Accidents

By Mike Tanglis

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Introduction and Key Findings

In a deregulatory frenzy, the Trump administration has withdrawn or paused more than 1,500 rulemakings. This total vastly exceeds the number under President Obama at this period of his administration, and roughly parallels the number under President George W. Bush. Trump has blocked more rulemakings deemed “significant”1 due to their economic impact or other factors than Bush.

The Trump administration has bragged that it has eliminated “nearly 1,000 regulations.” This claim is somewhat misleading. In fact, most of the regulations that the administration claims to have scuttled were rulemakings in progress that had yet to be finalized, as opposed to regulations already on the books that have been eliminated.

The status of ongoing rulemakings is reported by the Office of Management and Budget in a document called the Unified Agenda that is published twice a year. The Unified Agenda tracks arulemaking’s progress, essentially from the proposed or prerule rule stage to its completion. Rulemakings can be categorized as “long term actions,” which generally means that they are notprogressing very rapidly. Rulemakings can also be categorized as “withdrawn,” meaning that theyhave been cancelled prior to completion. (In a somewhat recent development, rulemakings may be put on an “inactive list,” which the Trump administration publishes separately from the Unified Agenda.)

This report examines nearly 20 years of Unified Agenda data to determine how the number of halted or delayed rulemakings on Trump’s first three agendas compares to the number of delayedor withdrawn rulemakings on the first three agendas of the Obama and George W. Bush administrations. It also examines changes to the list of inactive regulations. Rulemakings that have been halted or delayed make up the bulk of regulations to which Trump Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was referring when she bragged about the administration had “gotten rid of 1,000 regulations.”

We count rulemakings that have been halted as those listed as withdrawn on the Unified Agenda.We count as delayed those rulemakings that are listed for the first time on the “long-term actions”stage or moved to the inactive list.

These are our findings at a glance:

1 Economically Significant rules are those that are expected to have an economic impact of at least $100 million. Rules are categorized as “Other Significant” if they raise novel policy issues, affect multiple agencies, materially affect federal spending programs or meet other criteria.

Withdrawn rule makings – The Trump administration has withdrawn more than 780 rule makings. That is an 85 percent increase compared to the Obama administration’s first threeagendas and a 3 percent decrease compared to the first three agendas submitted by the George W. Bush administration.

Of Trump’s withdrawn rulemakings, 279 were deemed “significant.” Rulemakings are given thestatus of “economically significant” if they are projected to have an economic impact of more than $100 million and are given “other significant” status if they meet certain criteria, such asraising novel policy issues or affecting multiple agencies. 2 The Trump administration’s numberof significant rulemakings withdrawn by this point in the president’s term was 77 percent more than the Obama administration and 26 percent more than the George W. Bush administration.

Active rulemakings moved to long-term – The Trump administration moved 583 rulemakings to long-term actions over its first three agendas. The total is 28 percent more than the Obama administration but 16 percent less than the Bush administration.

Of these, 209 were significant. That total is 7 percent more than the Obama administration total but 12 percent less than the Bush administration’s.

Rule makings moved to inactive – The Trump administration moved 328 rulemakings to inactive status. Of these, 41 percent were significant.

Because this is a new category, comparisons cannot be made to past administrations.

In a deregulatory frenzy, the Trump administration has withdrawn or paused more than 1,500 rulemakings. This total vastly exceeds the number under President Obama at this period of his administration, and roughly parallels the number under President George W. Bush. Trump has blocked more rulemakings deemed “significant”1 due to their economic impact or other factors than Bush.

The Trump administration has bragged that it has eliminated “nearly 1,000 regulations.” This claim is somewhat misleading. In fact, most of the regulations that the administration claims to have scuttled were rulemakings in progress that had yet to be finalized, as opposed to regulations already on the books that have been eliminated.

The status of ongoing rulemakings is reported by the Office of Management and Budget in a document called the Unified Agenda that is published twice a year. The Unified Agenda tracks arulemaking’s progress, essentially from the proposed or prerule rule stage to its completion. Rulemakings can be categorized as “long term actions,” which generally means that they are notprogressing very rapidly. Rulemakings can also be categorized as “withdrawn,” meaning that theyhave been cancelled prior to completion. (In a somewhat recent development, rulemakings may be put on an “inactive list,” which the Trump administration publishes separately from the Unified Agenda.)

This report examines nearly 20 years of Unified Agenda data to determine how the number of halted or delayed rulemakings on Trump’s first three agendas compares to the number of delayedor withdrawn rulemakings on the first three agendas of the Obama and George W. Bush administrations. It also examines changes to the list of inactive regulations. Rulemakings that have been halted or delayed make up the bulk of regulations to which Trump Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was referring when she bragged about the administration had “gotten rid of 1,000 regulations.”

We count rulemakings that have been halted as those listed as withdrawn on the Unified Agenda.We count as delayed those rulemakings that are listed for the first time on the “long-term actions”stage or moved to the inactive list.

These are our findings at a glance:

Economically Significant rules are those that are expected to have an economic impact of at least $100 million. Rules are categorized as “Other Significant” if they raise novel policy issues, affect multiple agencies, materially affect federal spending programs or meet other criteria.

Withdrawn rule makings – The Trump administration has withdrawn more than 780 rule makings. That is an 85 percent increase compared to the Obama administration’s first threeagendas and a 3 percent decrease compared to the first three agendas submitted by the George W. Bush administration.

Of Trump’s withdrawn rulemakings, 279 were deemed “significant.” Rulemakings are given thestatus of “economically significant” if they are projected to have an economic impact of more than $100 million and are given “other significant” status if they meet certain criteria, such asraising novel policy issues or affecting multiple agencies. 2 The Trump administration’s numberof significant rulemakings withdrawn by this point in the president’s term was 77 percent more than the Obama administration and 26 percent more than the George W. Bush administration.

Active rulemakings moved to long-term – The Trump administration moved 583 rulemakings to long-term actions over its first three agendas. The total is 28 percent more than the Obama administration but 16 percent less than the Bush administration.

Of these, 209 were significant. That total is 7 percent more than the Obama administration total but 12 percent less than the Bush administration’s.

Rule makings moved to inactive – The Trump administration moved 328 rulemakings to inactive status. Of these, 41 percent were significant.

Because this is a new category, comparisons cannot be made to past administrations.