Trump implements 'regulatory freeze'

By Jami Jones, Land Line managing editor | 1/23/2017

As one of his first official acts after taking office, President Donald Trump has directed federal agencies to suspend, withdraw and delay regulations depending on where they are in the rulemaking process.

Trump directed his chief of staff, Reince Priebus, to alert federal agencies to the plan going forward on managing the regulatory process. Priebus sent a memo to heads of the executive departments and agencies within the federal government on Friday, Jan. 20.

The memo carefully excludes any regulations that would address “emergency situations or other urgent circumstances relating to health, safety, financial, or national security matters.” It does go on to direct agencies not to send out any new regulations to the Federal Register and to withdraw any that have been submitted but have not yet officially published.

The point of the freeze is to allow for a review of the pending regulations by a department or agency head appointed or designated by Trump, Priebus wrote in the memo.

For regulations that have been implemented, but have not taken effect, within the past 60 days before Trump took office, agencies are to postpone the effective date for 60 days from the date of the memo. Agencies are also directed to consider proposing a delay on the effective date beyond the 60 days and taking public comment on the proposal.

The “freeze” does not apply to any regs that are in response to statutory or judicial deadlines. But agencies are directed to identify any of those regulations as soon as possible and alert the Office of Management and Budget of those regulations.

Freezes or moratoriums on regulations during a presidential transition are not uncommon. President Barack Obama did the same thing in 2009 when he took office, delaying regulations 60 days and implementing a 30-day comment period on the pending regs.

New final rules to trucking implemented in the 60 days leading up to the Jan. 20 memo include the driver training regulation and the drug and alcohol clearinghouse. Statutes prompted both regulations, which could exclude them from the freeze. The effective date of both regulations fall within the 60-day window, but compliance deadlines are not until 2020 for both regulations.

An FMCSA spokesman said the impact was being assessed.

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