Washington Report

Advocacy Updates from Washington D.C.

Trump Tightens Control Over Regulators

On April 11, 2019, the White House moved to curb the power of federal regulators by directing them to submit non-binding guidance documents to the budget office for review, a step that could improve transparency and accountability for any rule with a potentially large impact on the economy. A memo from acting Office of Management and Budget Director Russell Vought would vastly broaden Congress's ability to reject such guidance, subjecting the documents to the same scrutiny as regulations that carry the force of law.

The action would help resolve an issue that has proved problematic: agencies issuing regulatory documents that don’t go through the formal notice-and-comment process but can still regulate the private sector.

The memo will have a potentially sweeping impact on agencies throughout the government including independent regulators like the EPA, Federal Reserve and the SEC. It calls on the agencies to regularly notify the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs of upcoming guidance, along with determinations of whether it qualifies as “major” — the threshold for notifying Congress under the Congressional Review Act.

Any guidance document deemed major by OIRA would need to be sent to Congress, which would then have the ability to strike it down under the review act, a law that gives lawmakers a short window to roll back a rule.

Download the White House Memo