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Sacrificing Public Protections on the Altar of Deregulation

A Close Look at the Rulemakings Halted by the Administration on the Spring 2017 Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions

By Mike Tanglis

View Full Report as PDF

Introduction and Key Findings

President Donald Trump has made deregulation a central point of emphasis. One of Trump’s first actions as president was signing an executive order that instructed executive branch agencies to identity two regulations to eliminate for every regulation they added. Public Citizen has sued the administration over this order because it will force the repeal of regulations needed to protect health, safety, and the environment. Repealing these regulations would be inconsistent with the requirements in underlying statues.

Trump administration press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders recently claimed that the administration has “gotten rid of nearly 1,000 regulations.” This is false. But the Trump administration has done a lot to slow down or stop ongoing rule makings.

Aside from actions intended to remove regulations already on the books, the administration also has halted work on rulemakings that are being created but not yet completed. This process, known as withdrawing the rulemaking, can be done very quickly – unlike eliminating an existing rule, which requires extensive procedures.

When a rulemaking is withdrawn, the action is noted on the government’s “Unified Agenda” offederal regulatory and deregulatory actions. The agenda, which is published twice a year by the Office of Management and Budget, compiles individual agencies’ ongoing and recently completed rulemakings. Unified Agendas are available online dating back to 1995.

When the Trump administration, in July, released its first Unified Agenda, it boasted of the number of “ineffective, duplicative, and obsolete” regulations it had withdrawn or otherwise stalled. This report analyzes data from more than 20 years of the federal government’s Unified Agendas to determine how the Trump administration’s first agenda, Spring 2017, compares in terms of withdrawn rulemakings. This analysis also describes more than 35 examples of regulations that were listed as withdrawn on the Trump administration’s first agenda.