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Recess Appointment for Dudley Puts Public at Risk

April 4, 2007

Recess Appointment for Dudley Puts Public at Risk

New Regulatory Czar Is an Enemy to Basic Government Safeguards

WASHINGTON, D.C. – President Bush’s announcement that he will appoint Susan Dudley to head a powerful regulatory agency is a blow to government’s ability to protect citizens, Public Citizen said today.

“This is devastating news for the public,” said Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook. “Dudley has a record of unrelenting hostility to regulatory protections for the public health, safety, consumers, the environment, privacy rights – everything that we expect our government to provide.”

By White House fiat, Dudley has become 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 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 the president does not have faith that Dudley could get through the process on her own merits,” said Robert Shull, Public Citizen’s deputy director for auto safety and regulatory policy. “Instead of facing up to her record on the issues, the president has decided to evade public accountability and just hand her 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, it refused to allow the nomination to leave the committee stage. The chair of the committee said publicly that while the White House could re-nominate Dudley in 2007, doing so would be a waste of the committee’s time.

Despite this, the Bush administration decided to nominate Dudley again in 2007 and in January installed Dudley unofficially as a “senior advisor.” The same month, President Bush signed an executive order giving the office she will occupy 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 to influence.

“A recess appointment of the anti-regulatory extremist Susan Dudley as the new regulatory czar is more than just a slap in the face of the Senate,” said Shull. “It is a signal that the Bush administration is moving from siege to all-out war on the nation’s public protections.”

As director of regulatory studies at the industry-funded Mercatus  Center, Dudley has argued that:

  • the lives of seniors should count for less than the lives of the young when agencies are weighing the costs and benefits of proposed rules;
  • smog is good for you, and instead of requiring the government to reduce ozone levels, poor, asthmatic children should stay indoors on peak ozone days;
  • 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
  • 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 all Americans at needless risk.

To learn more about Susan Dudley’s troubling record, click here.