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At Last, the Obama Administration Acknowledges Need for Urgency on Advancing Regulatory Agenda

Responsive Government

At last, the Obama Administration is articulating a sense of urgency about moving vitally needed health and safty regulations through its pipeline. Here’s Howard Shelanski, White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, in a Bloomberg BNA story this week:

“So we are working now, here in January of 2015, on getting priorities lined up, so that we do not find ourselves at some point in 2016 with really important policy priorities unexecuted,” Shelanski said.

Later in the interview:

Still, the reason OIRA is working hard with agencies in early 2015 is so they can bring the most important rules through the process this year and finalize them sometime in early 2016, Shelanski said.

It’s about time. Last November, CPR released an Issue Alert calling on the Obama Administration to seize the opportunity offered by its remaining time in office and complete a slate of 13 essential regulatory safeguards that would deliver long-lasting protections for public health, safety, and the environment.  In particular, the Issue Alert urged the Administration to immediately begin taking steps toward charting a course for these and other safeguards that would ensure their completion “by no later than June 30, 2016,” which would ensure that they are not swept up in any political riptides in the months leading up to the 2016 presidential elections and to otherwise insulate them against potential repeal under the Congressional Review Act.

We congratulate the Obama Administration for recognizing the need for this urgency, and we are heartened that they appear to be taking concrete steps to translate this recognition into meaningful action.  It is especially noteworthy that the head of the office that is usually most responsible for regulatory delays and for amplifying industry’s tired myths about the burdens of regulations is serving as the Administration’s messenger on this critical topic.  After all, because of its institutional role in the regulatory process, OIRA will be largely responsible for ensuring that timely progress is made on regulatory safeguards.

In the months to come, we expect conservative members of Congress and their corporate benefactors to dial up their antiregulatory attacks even more, singling out several of the important safeguards that the Obama Administration is currently working on.  We urge the Obama to respond forcefully to these attacks by using his bully pulpit to explain to the American public why the urgency for these safeguards is so great.  The President should have no trouble explaining that many of these safeguards have been delayed for many years already—in some cases longer than a decade—and that, once completed, they will deliver real benefits for the American people in terms of protecting their health, safety, and the natural environment on which they depend.

Responsive Government

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