President Donald Trump issued a presidential memorandum Friday ordering federal departments and agencies to freeze all regulations — new and pending — until his administration has had a chance to review them.
The action is standard for any incoming presidential administration seeking to reverse or review the policies of the previous administration. President Barack Obama in 2009 issued a similar memorandum to halt any new and pending regulations that were announced under President George W. Bush.
Barring matters of health, safety, financial or national security, the presidential memorandum directed the heads of all federal departments and agencies to halt any new or pending regulations until someone appointed by Trump can review and approve them. For regulations that have already been published in the Federal Register but that have not yet taken effect, the memorandum postpones the effective date by 60 days from Jan. 21, the day the memorandum was issued.
Because the memorandum was widely anticipated, Obama officials rammed through a series of new regulations between Election Day and the inauguration, hopeful that perhaps some of their last-minute actions would slip by the Trump transition team and still take effect.
Gina McCarthy,, EPA administrator under former President Barack Obama, offered a candid glimpse into what may have been the outgoing administration's intent. According to Politico, McCarthy sent a letter Nov. 9 to agency employees, saying, "We're running — not walking — through the finish line of President Obama's presidency.”
Among the Obama regulations that could be affected are tightened rules on how some fossil fuels can be transported, as well as tougher requirements for entrepreneurial immigrants looking to stay in the U.S.
Trump cannot reverse any regulations that have already taken effect. That would, in most cases, require an act of Congress repealing the legislation that allowed the regulation to be issued in the first place. For example, Congress would need to either repeal or defund the Dodd-Frank Act in order to reverse any substantive Wall Street regulations.