President Donald Trump on Monday signed an executive order requiring that “for every one new regulation issued, at least two prior regulations be identified for elimination.”
The order is in line with Trump’s campaign promise to reduce government regulation of private industries. But the two-for-one regulation swap outlined in the law appears to bear no relation to the basic purpose of federal regulations, which is to protect the public.
“Whenever an executive department or agency publicly proposes for notice and comment or otherwise promulgates a new regulation, it shall identify at least two existing regulations to be repealed,” the executive order reads.
Trump’s order also includes language about the costs of regulations, which are notoriously difficult to quantify. “Any new incremental costs associated with new regulations shall … be offset by the elimination of existing costs associated with at least two prior regulations,” the order says, and “the total incremental cost of all new regulations this year shall be no greater than zero.”
The order places the lion’s share of responsibility for deciding what regulations and costs are covered by the rule on Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), Trump’s as-yet unconfirmed nominee to direct the Office of Management and Budget. Under the order, the OMB is charged with determining costs and savings related to regulations.
The new order is in addition to the Trump administration’s regulatory freeze, which the president enacted just days after taking office. White House officials said Monday that the freeze is “beginning to thaw,” and new proposed regulatory actions are moving through the process.
Trump administration officials said Monday that the timing of future two-for-one regulatory swaps has yet to be “worked out,” and it is unclear yet who would approve the trade-offs.
Consumer watchdog groups were quick to criticize the latest move by the Trump administration to keep its promises to the business community. “This executive order is as radical and unworkable as the other ones Trump has signed,” said Robert Weissman, president of the nonprofit group Public Citizen. The order, he said, “will result in immediate and lasting damage to our government’s ability to save lives, protect our environment, police Wall Street, keep consumers safe and fight discrimination.”