Recess Appointment for Dudley Puts Public at Risk

President Bush’s decision to give anti-regulatory extremist Susan Dudley a recess appointment to serve as the new regulatory czar is more than just a slap in the face of the Senate:  it is a signal that the Bush administration is moving from siege to all-out war on the nation’s public protections.

Dudley has now become, by White House fiat, the new administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) in the Office of Management and Budget.  There, Dudley will have power to weaken, delay, and eliminate all important regulations to protect the environment, public health, safety, civil rights, privacy, and consumers.

This position is so powerful that the White House must submit nominees to the Senate for its constitutional role of advice and consent.  Bypassing the Senate is a sign that Bush does not have faith that Dudley could get through the process on her own merits.  Instead of facing up to her record on the issues, Bush has decided to evade public accountability and simply install her in this incredibly powerful office.

Last year, Dudley’s nomination proved so controversial that, even though the Senate was then controlled by the president’s own party, the Senate refused to allow the nomination even leave the committee stage.  The chair of the committee even said publicly that, while the White House could re-nominate Dudley in 2007, doing so would be a waste of the committee’s time.

Instead of learning its lesson, the Bush administration decided to nominate Dudley again in 2007 — then, in a stunning display of petulance, put Dudley in power unofficially, as a “senior advisor.”  The same month, President Bush signed an executive order giving Dudley even more power over regulatory policy by requiring agencies to submit not just draft standards but also “guidance” — essentially, any important information that the White House wants power to meddle with.

This is devastating news for the public.  Dudley has a record of unrelenting hostility to regulatory protections of the public health, safety, consumers, privacy rights — everything that we expect our government to provide us.  Dudley has actually argued

• that the lives of seniors should for less than the lives of the young when agencies are weighing the costs and benefits of proposed rules;
• that smog is good for you — and poor asthmatic children should stay indoors on peak ozone days, instead of the government actually reducing ozone levels;
• that agencies should not provide us life-saving improvements in air bag designs — because if the public really wanted them, the market would already be providing them; and
• that a Clinton administration rule to increase our protection from arsenic in drinking water was “an unwelcome distraction.”

These examples are just a few of the many signs of Dudley’s irrational campaign against regulation.  By giving her a recess appointment to an office where she can put her bad ideas into action, President Bush has put us all at needless risk.

Tell the Senate enough is enough.  Demand oversight:  No Blank Check for Dudley… The Cost Is Too High!