Statement of Amit Narang, Regulatory Policy Advocate, Public Citizen
Note: Today, President Donald Trump is expected to sign a pair of executive orders that would limit the use of nonbinding memos, letters and guidance documents that federal agencies use to help individuals and companies comply with regulations.
Trump’s executive order attacking regulatory guidance will undermine his own promise to tackle the vaping crisis. His executive order comes at the worst possible time, given that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration plans to use guidance to implement the flavored vaping ban. At the very least, the executive order will make it harder for the agency to ban vaping products that have yet to receive approval, and conservative groups opposed to the ban will point to the executive order as grounds for blocking it.
Contrary to the horror stories told by corporate lobbyists and right-wing ideologues, regulatory guidance has been crucial to protecting the public in countless ways: limiting children’s exposure to lead, fighting the opioid addiction crisis, protecting civil rights, preventing discrimination in the workplace, ensuring our food is safe, preventing sexual assault on campus and much more. Limiting guidance undermines one of the key tools federal agencies use to protect the public from health, safety and environmental risks. Guidance does not create new duties or obligations, but it does clarify regulatory interpretations and signal enforcement interpretations; as a result, it not only advances public protections, it creates certainty and clarity for regulated businesses.
Congress must make clear that Trump’s attack on guidance is unacceptable and will hurt workers, consumers and families. The next administration should repeal this executive order on day one and refocus on safeguarding the public.