The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the view of The Hill

For Trump regulations, it all comes down to November

With the crises of the pandemic, the recession and the nationwide protests, it has been easy to overlook one of the chief battlegrounds of the first three years of the Trump administration: regulation. For three years the administration has attempted (often unsuccessfully) to repeal some of the most impfactful regulations issued by the Obama administration. Despite the crises, these attempts have continued full throttle in 2020. Just a few weeks ago, the National Park Service reduced restrictions on hunting in Alaska.

The main reason that this continued deregulatory push has not garnered media attention is that there have been more newsworthy events dominating the political media landscape. One reason it should get more attention is that the eventual fate of any deregulatory initiative issued by the Trump administration from this point onwards (and possibly many deregulatory actions that have already taken place) will be determined by the November elections. 

A potential Biden administration will obviously reverse direction in a wide variety of policy realms from the Trump administration. But few of the potential changes in a new presidency will occur with as much certainty and as much ease as the reversal of regulations issued by the Trump administration in the last seven or eight months of 2020. There are several reasons for this.

First is the Congressional Review Act (CRA). Brought out of a long slumber in 2017, the act allows Congress to repeal recent regulations without threat of a filibuster in the Senate. As of March, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) used the CRA to repeal 14 regulations from the end of the Obama administration. If the Democrats control the Senate and the presidency in 2021 (and retain control of the House), then a Democratic Majority Leader will follow likely McConnell’s road map for discarding regulations issued this year by the Trump administration. And because of the pandemic, more regulations are likely to be eligible for repeal.

Bethany Davis Noll and Richard Revesz have pointed out that the Trump administration has pioneered other tools that can be used by their successors. These do not require Congressional action. Many of the Trump administration deregulatory initiatives have been and will continue to be challenged in court. A Biden administration will almost certainly ask courts to hold those cases (and the Trump efforts) in abeyance while they ready reversals. Given the Trump administration’s abysmal record in the courts defending their regulations, judges may very well be sympathetic to these requests.

Finally, Davis Noll and Revesz point out that for regulations that are issued very late in the administration, the new president can follow the current administration’s lead and suspend the effective date for these efforts. 

All of these tools make efforts to deregulate by the Trump administration this year very tenuous. In addition, even deregulatory efforts (such as the repeals of the Clean Power Plan and the Waters of the United States regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency) that have been completed will still be in various stages of litigation as Jan. 20, 2021, dawns. It is reasonable to foresee that a Biden administration will not argue in favor of repeals of regulations that were issued when Biden was Vice-President.

There is much at stake in the November elections. One of the clearest stakes is the fate of the attempts to loosen protections of workers, public health and the environment that the Trump administration has pursued. Typically, reversing regulations is hard but the sloppiness of the Trump administration will give a new administration many relatively easy-to-reverse targets. 

While reversals on enforcement of regulation, any deterioration in the civil service that has occurred over the past four years, and any policy changes requiring legislation will take time, many Trump deregulatory initiatives can be reversed quickly.

From this point forward, every time you see news of (or panicked or jubilant reactions to) a new one, remember that its fate is on the ballot in November.

Stuart Shapiro is professor and director of the Public Policy Program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University, and a member of the Scholars Strategy Network. Follow him on Twitter @shapiro_stuart.

Tags Clean Power Act Congressional Review Act Deregulation Donald Trump Environmental Protection Agency EPA healthy school lunches Joe Biden Mitch McConnell Obama era regulations Waters of the United States

Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Regular the hill posts

People – Image widget – Person – Main Area Top

File - A Chevrolet Bolt is displayed at the Philadelphia Auto Show, Jan. 27, 2023, in Philadelphia. Electric vehicles are far less reliable than gasoline-powered cars, trucks and SUVs, mainly because most automakers are still learning how to build a completely new power system, according to this year's auto reliability survey by Consumer Reports.(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
File - A Chevrolet Bolt is displayed at the Philadelphia Auto Show, Jan. 27, 2023, in Philadelphia. Electric vehicles are far less reliable than gasoline-powered cars, trucks and SUVs, mainly because most automakers are still learning how to build a completely new power system, according to this year's auto reliability survey by Consumer Reports.(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

QAT WC-2613

People – Image – Person

In this photo released by the Governor of Sevastopol, Mikhail Razvozhayev telegram channel, a rescuer gestures as he helps people during an evacuation after storm and flooding in Sevastopol, Crimea, Monday, Nov. 27, 2023. A storm in the Black Sea took down power grids and left almost half a million people without power after it flooded roads, ripped up trees and damaged buildings in Crimea, Russian state news agency Tass said. (Governor of Sevastopol Mikhail Razvozhayev's telegram channel via AP)
In this photo released by the Governor of Sevastopol, Mikhail Razvozhayev telegram channel, a rescuer gestures as he helps people during an evacuation after storm and flooding in Sevastopol, Crimea, Monday, Nov. 27, 2023. A storm in the Black Sea took down power grids and left almost half a million people without power after it flooded roads, ripped up trees and damaged buildings in Crimea, Russian state news agency Tass said. (Governor of Sevastopol Mikhail Razvozhayev's telegram channel via AP)

People - Video Bin - Person

The White House is pushing 'Bidenomics,' but what does it mean?

The White House is pushing 'Bidenomics,' but what ...
DC Bureau: AI Legal Immunity (raquel)
KXAN: special session
DC Bureau: Biden economic display (basil)
KTXL: ca budget folo
WHTM: good gov bills
More Videos

Main area middle

See all Hill.TV See all Video

main area bottom custom html

MAIN Area bottom

People – Custom HTML – Person

MAIN AREA BOTTOM

People - Article Bin - 7 Headline List with Featured Image - Person

Main area bottom

Top Stories

See All

Most Popular

Load more