TagOIRA

Coronavirus slows—but doesn’t stop—agency rulemaking and adjudication

Federal agencies are moving forward with rulemaking and adjudication during the coronavirus outbreak, despite calls from lawmakers, advocacy groups, and state and local governments to pause or delay proceedings. Federal agencies continue to take action, albeit with technological modifications and revised timelines in certain cases.

*Rulemaking*: Agency rulemaking is continuing during the coronavirus outbreak. Pending regulations include a revised proposed rule from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) modifying the agency’s approach to certain scientific data, a proposed rule from the Federal Labor Relations Authority’s (FLRA) allowing government workers to stop paying union dues after one year, and an EPA proposal to modify an Obama-era regulation governing coal-burning power plant waste.

U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) on March 17 sent letters to the heads of eight financial regulatory agencies, including the Federal Reserve Board and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), urging the agencies to halt rulemaking during the coronavirus crisis. A group of 40 advocacy groups including Greenpeace, Public Citizen and Americans for Financial Reform on March 24 sent a letter to the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) requesting that federal agencies pause rulemaking unrelated to the coronavirus outbreak. A group of 21 state attorneys general sent a similar letter to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on March 31.

*Comment periods*: As agency rulemaking continues, state governments and federal lawmakers have asked federal agencies to pause or extend their comment periods during the coronavirus outbreak. A coalition of state and local government groups led by the National Governors Association on March 20 sent a letter to President Trump (R) asking for agencies to extend comment periods on active rulemakings to allow them to better engage in the rulemaking process at a later date. Similarly, fourteen committee chairs in the U.S. House of Representatives on April 1 sent a letter to OMB requesting that OMB direct agencies to extend comment periods at least 45 days past the end of the national emergency.

OMB advised agencies to extend comment periods on a case-by-case basis. The EPA and the CFPB extended public comment periods for selected rules, including the EPA’s proposal to modify its approach to certain scientific data. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which has an internal regulation requiring public comment on its guidance documents, announced on March 20 that it would implement coronavirus guidance documents without holding comment periods and, instead, would allow for revisions based on public feedback at a later date.

*Adjudication*: Agency adjudication is continuing during the coronavirus outbreak and many agencies, including the Board of Veterans Appeals, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Social Security Administration, have suspended in-person hearings in favor of video or telephone hearings where feasible. Other agencies, such as the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), have temporarily suspended hearings until a later date.

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Comment Period
Adjudication
Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs
Office of Management and Budget



OIRA reviewed 41 significant rules in March

The White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) reviewed a total of 41 significant regulatory actions issued by federal agencies in March 2020. The agency approved two rules without changes and approved the intent of 38 rules while recommending changes to their content. Agencies withdrew one rule from the review process.

OIRA reviewed 27 significant regulatory actions in March 2019, 19 significant regulatory actions in March 2018, and one significant regulatory action in March 2017. During the Obama administration from 2009-2016, OIRA reviewed an average of 42 significant regulatory actions each March.

OIRA has reviewed a total of 117 significant rules so far in 2020. The agency reviewed a total of 475 significant rules in 2019, 355 significant rules in 2018, and 237 significant rules in 2017.

As of March 2, 2020, OIRA’s website listed 121 regulatory actions under review.

OIRA is responsible for reviewing and coordinating what it deems to be all significant regulatory actions made by federal agencies, with the exception of independent federal agencies. Significant regulatory actions include agency rules that have had or may have a large impact on the economy, environment, public health, or state and local governments and communities. These regulatory actions may also conflict with other regulations or with the priorities of the president.

Every month, Ballotpedia compiles information about regulatory reviews conducted by OIRA. To view this project, click here.

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Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs
Rulemaking



OIRA reviewed 44 significant rules in February

The White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) reviewed a total of 44 significant regulatory actions issued by federal agencies in February 2020. The agency approved one rule without changes and approved the intent of 36 rules while recommending changes to their content. Agencies withdrew seven rules from the review process.

OIRA reviewed 23 significant regulatory actions in February 2019, 20 significant regulatory actions in February 2018, and three significant regulatory actions in January 2017. During the Obama administration from 2009-2016, OIRA reviewed an average of 40 significant regulatory actions each February.

OIRA has reviewed a total of 76 significant rules so far in 2020. The agency reviewed a total of 475 significant rules in 2019, 355 significant rules in 2018, and 237 significant rules in 2017.

As of March 2, 2020, OIRA’s website listed 114 regulatory actions under review.

OIRA is responsible for reviewing and coordinating what it deems to be all significant regulatory actions made by federal agencies, with the exception of independent federal agencies. Significant regulatory actions include agency rules that have had or may have a large impact on the economy, environment, public health, or state and local governments and communities. These regulatory actions may also conflict with other regulations or with the priorities of the president.

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