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Trump’s Reg Czar: Corporate Gatekeeper?

April 7, 2017

Trump’s Reg Czar: Corporate Gatekeeper?

Statement of Robert Weissman, President, Public Citizen

Note: Today, President Donald Trump nominated Neomi Rao, director of the Center for the Study of the Administrative State at George Mason University, to serve as administrator of the U.S. Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). OIRA is a White House office housed inside the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that ostensibly serves as a clearinghouse for all economically significant federal regulations, but historically has been a major chokepoint in the regulatory process due to political interference, corporate lobbyist influence and unexplained delays.

Neomi Rao comes from the Koch-funded George Mason University Law School. Her writings evince a profound hostility to the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and to independent regulatory agencies more generally. Remarkably, and disturbingly, in testimony she has complained that the CFPB is charged with the duty to ensure that “consumers are protected from unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts and practices and from discrimination” – arguing that a broad charge of protecting consumers from getting ripped off by predatory institutions raises constitutional concerns.

President Trump has proclaimed that his intent is to defang regulatory agencies and gut regulatory protections. But the OIRA administrator has a duty to ensure implementation of the laws of the land, which require government agencies to issue new rules to advance their missions, not to give corporations a free hand to pollute and pilfer, poison and profiteer.

The U.S. Senate should reject Rao’s nomination unless she can demonstrate a readiness to comply with the law and facilitate adoption of regulations to protect consumers, workers and our environment.