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POOL Report #3 -- WH background briefing on deregulatory EO, conducted for the POOL
Alexis Simendinger • Real Clear Politics
January 30, 2017: 12:27 PM


POOL Report #3 Background Briefing conducted for the POOL by two senior administration officials, about the president's regulatory relief/review E.O.

EO text has been released by the WH.

Two senior administration officials briefed POOLers on background in Lower Press to describe the president's regulatory review/relief E.O., signed this morning. Steno recorded the Q&A, and a transcript may be available later, and the text of the order was released. (Deputy Press Secretary Lindsay Walters listened to the briefing and may be able to answer more Q., if Sean Spicer does not.... Lindsay.E.Walters@who.eop.gov.)

Briefing highlights:

The Trump administration believes this EO is the "most significant administrative action in the world of regulatory reform since President Reagan created OIRA in 1981." (OIRA is OMB's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, the office that reviews federal regulations.)

"It creates an actual cap of zero dollars for the remainder of FY 2017 of added regulatory costs, so any new regulatory burdens will have to be offset by other deregulatory policies. For FY '17, it's going to be zero, and it puts in place a process most importantly going forward into '18 about how OMB will work with all the agencies to manage their own regulatory review process, that's part of the existing process, and including a budgetary component that will look at the anticipated regulatory costs of any new regulations to ensure those are offset and reduced by other deregulatory policies, and for every new regulatory action there are two deregulatory actions taken out," one official said.

He called the Obama administration's regulatory record an "extreme regulatory burden" on the economy and the private sector.

The administration is layering a new E.O. on top of existing executive orders from previous administrations, which cover the regulatory review process within the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at OMB. The existing process left in place by the Trump team -- identifies economically significant and major rulemakings of $100 million or more. (No new Trump OIRA administrator has been nominated or confirmed; there is an acting OIRA administration; OMB director-designate Mulvaney has not been confirmed.)

The president's E.O. does NOT revoke any Obama or pre-existing regulatory order. It creates a new management regime "a strong structural process" to account for the economic costs of federal regulations and to try to offset those costs in FY 2017, and move beyond the zero-out concept into FY 2018. The officials described this concept as a budget for regulations.

They did not repeat Trump's stated boast of reducing/eliminating 75 percent of federal regulations/burdens, nor did they specify how long it would take to achieve significant relief through the one-in-two-out process (which is to occur through the regular regulatory review process, which includes notice and comment requirements). They did not dispute that it might take years, but suggested it could move briskly into FY 2018.

President Trump's action Monday is in addition to the administration's current regulatory freeze, which officials said is beginning to thaw as new proposed regulatory actions come through the pipeline.

The White House is tasking agencies and departments to reduce to a net of zero in FY 2017 the regulatory costs the administration proposes. Agencies and departments are tasked to identify to OMB and the WH two existing regulations under their authority that they would eliminate for every one that is new. This is to follow through on President Trump's campaign promise that for every new federal regulation issued, his administration will eliminate two.

Federal agencies and departments will identify the regulatory targets for proposed elimination under their jurisdiction, and the WH and OMB have final say, the officials said.

Asked if agencies and departments must bundle the proposed new regulations with the candidates for elimination and wait for the OK in order to sequence a "net zero" package together, one official said, "the timing has to be worked out."

Asked if the public would be able to view or see the bundling of the two regulations being erased by agencies and departments through the rulemaking process, together with a new one proposed and bundled with the other two, one official said, "that's the intention."

There is no aggregate federal estimate quantifying the national regulatory burden on the private sector, but one of the officials referred to $2 trillion annually. The officials said the economic burden of federal regulations "is very akin to taxes."

[Neither official raised regulatory benefits -- measures of costs saved in the economy as a result of federal regulations.]

The EO includes exemptions for emergency regulations, for military and national security, the officials said.

The background briefing, which was embargoed until its conclusion, began at about 9:35 a.m. and ended at 9:53 a.m.

[NOTE: Presidents Clinton (Gore's Reinventing Government); Bush; and Obama all publicly championed their own regulatory reduction/relief efforts at the outset of their administrations.]



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