President Obama spent his final six years in office—and especially the last two—governing largely by executive fiat. He issued executive orders, and his administrative state issued tens of thousands of pages of new regulations that took on the force of law. He called it rule by pen and phone.
This infuriated millions of Americans and contributed to Donald Trump’s victory, and one irony is that this also means that Mr. Obama’s policy legacy is less durable. Mr. Trump will now have the chance to reverse these orders and regulations often without new legislation. Here are three ways he and Republicans can proceed:
New executive orders. Wayne Crews of the Competitive Enterprise Institute counts more than 250 executive orders signed by President OBama, plus more than 230 “executive memoranda.” These did everything from creating a new investment vehicle called MyRA, which seeks to encourage new savers to invest in government debt, to directing federal agencies to demand new data to investigate pay disparity by race and sex at government contractors. The Trump transition should review every one so the boss can rescind them if he wishes.
A related category are orders issued by federal agencies without a formal federal rule-making. Mr. Obama's regulators made an unprecedented practice of issuing “guidance” that allowed agencies to duck rule-making while still forcing targets to comply-or risk enforcement action.
A classic of this genre is the Education Department's rewrite of Title IX telling universities how they must handle accusations of sexual assault. Other examples run from auto lending to drug discovery to housing rentals. The President's order legalizing four million illegal immigrants that is currently tied up in court can also be dropped at the stroke of a pen.
Mr. Trump can instruct his new cabinet secretaries to immediately void all such Obama guidance or else put it through the lawful rule-making process. He can also order federal agencies to immediately cease work on regulations in process or due to be send for publication in the Federal Register.
Congressional Review Act. This legacy of the Gingrich-era allows Congress to kill the many last-minute regulations now making their way through Mr. Obama's agencies. For items enacted in the last 60 working days of this Congress– which probably will mean since late May this year – lawmakers can consider them in January without threat of a Senate filibuster.
Read the full article at The Wall Street Journal.