GAO finds little impact from Trump order directing deregulation

Former President Trump’s executive order requiring agencies to strike two regulations for every new one they promulgated “did not substantially change” agency processes, while the government “may have overstated” the impact of the two-for-one policy, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found. 

The Monday report from the GAO undercut one of Trump’s reigning regulatory orders, signed early in his presidency to demonstrate his commitment to cutting red tape. 

But the report, commissioned by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nalder (D-N.Y.) and House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), found Trump’s two-for-one order did little to cut regulatory roadblocks. 

The five agencies reviewed by the GAO “implemented deregulatory executive order (EO) requirements, most with limited changes to their existing regulatory processes and procedures.”

And while four of the five agencies reported some cost savings, the GAO found the order’s effect “could be overstated” by the Trump administration, which claimed nine rules were struck for every new one written.

The GAO found that the Trump administration may have padded its figure, noting that it included “nonsignificant” regulatory actions in its accounting.

“Officials from some agencies told GAO that any changes in regulatory enforcement activities that occurred while the EO was in effect were not in response to, nor a consequence of, the EO,” the report stated.

Many opposed to the executive order viewed it as arbitrary, encouraging government agencies to cut regulations for the sake of cutting them, with little analysis of the potential impact.

The GAO report focused on the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Interior. These two agencies under the Trump administration broadly sought to weaken environmental protections and deregulate industries.

It also focused on the Department of Homeland Security, the Commerce Department and the Department of Transportation.

Interviews suggested agencies under the Trump administration largely already planned to carry out deregulatory actions regardless of the order. 

“While the EOs provided an impetus for agencies to update or eliminate outdated regulations, selected agency officials stated that, in many cases, the deregulatory actions they finalized were underway prior to the issuance of the EOs,” the report found.

Tags Carolyn Maloney Donald Trump

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