After taking their oaths of office in January, newly minted President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will face a number of daunting challenges: the ongoing pandemic and economic downturn; structural racial and ethnic injustice; widening economic inequality; inadequate access to affordable health care; and climate change. And Congress, facing the prospect of divided control, is unlikely to respond with robust legislative solutions that the American people expect and deserve.
The good news is that Biden and Harris will be able to meet these challenges head on by revitalizing governance and making effective use of the federal regulatory system. Better still, they can do so in a way that delivers justice and equity for all Americans.
Using the regulatory system as a policy tool is not easy under ideal circumstances, let alone during difficult times like these. For the last four years, the Trump administration has waged all-out war on “protector agencies” like the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration, seeking to demolish them from the inside out. This assault comes after decades of neglect and underinvestment by previous administrations.
Biden and Harris can repair and rebuild the nation’s system of standards and safeguards. But they can and should do more — they should build it back better. In a series of memos to the Biden-Harris transition team, CPR Member Scholars Catherine O’Neill and Sid Shapiro join us in explaining how they can do so. Our comprehensive plan lays out how they can tackle the policy challenges ahead and steer our country toward a more just and equitable future.
Our recommendations focus on a new executive order to replace Executive Order 12866, which establishes the current framework for regulatory policy across executive branch agencies. Specifically, the new administration should overhaul (1) how the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) reviews proposed protections and (2) how agencies assess the impacts of the rules they develop.
To build a more just regulatory system, we urge Biden and Harris to make the following 10 reforms:
We lay out each recommendation in greater detail in the following six memos: