Jan. 17, 2019
Regulations.gov Goes Offline: Latest Casualty of the Trump Shutdown Denies the Public’s Fundamental Right to Comment on Rulemakings
Statement of Matthew Kent, Regulatory Policy Associate, Public Citizen’s Congress Watch Division
Note: The status of Regulations.gov appears to be in flux. Earlier this morning, the site would not load at all. Then a message appeared indicating the site would be offline due to a lapse in funding. The latest message claims that the site will be restored, but provides no time frame for restoration of service. See below for screenshots. At the time of this statement, no staff was available to answer calls at the Regulations.gov helpdesk.
Today’s blackout of Regulations.gov, the primary online portal through which the public can participate in rulemaking, represents a complete breakdown of the regulatory process due to President Donald Trump’s shutdown.
The public’s right to comment on agency rulemaking is a foundational legal principle under the Administrative Procedure Act. Without it, there is no mechanism to ensure federal agencies remain accountable to the American people and address the public’s priorities – from health and safety to worker protections to the environment and more.
Regardless of when the site’s full functionality is restored, the administration should immediately extend all open comment periods for however long the government shutdown lasts to protect the public’s fundamental right to participate in the regulatory process. Anything less than a blanket comment period extension for the full duration of the shutdown means the Trump administration is cutting the public out of the regulatory process – and does not take the importance of public comment seriously.