US President Donald Trump plans to limit the use of interpretations of laws by federal bureaucrats, which his administration says amount to an attempt to circumvent “the regular rule-making process”.
Bloomberg reports, citing a person with knowledge of the matter, that the president will sign on Wednesday “a pair of executive orders” on restricting the circulation of blog posts, letters, and other guidance that federal agencies use to explain to individuals and businesses what is allowed and what is not under their regulations.
Unlike rules enacted by Congress, their interpretations don’t have the formal notice and comment period normally required for new or revised laws – triggering concerns among rights advocates that there is not enough supervision from other branches of government.
Trump’s planned orders are supposed to deregulate the Obama-era policy of fleshing out the existing regulations by interpreting them in bulletins, blogs and memos. Last year, the House Oversight Committee found that only 138 of more than 13,000 guidance documents issued by federal agencies since 2008 (around 1 percent) had been formally submitted to Congress and the General Accounting Office.
The goal now is to shield small business from agencies who use this practice as an “off-the book way around the regular rule-making process,” the White House said in the talking points seen by Bloomberg.
The Trump administration was quoted as saying that the new rules would benefit Americans who were previously “punished by rogue agencies who use fear and costly court cases to force Americans into following their directives”.
It cited a 2015 blog post from the Department of Labor as an example of such practice. In the post, officials wrote that many employees are improperly classified as independent contractors, which helps employees strip them of workplace protections and pay less in taxes. The White House reportedly said this interpretation of the law would have increased costs for thousands of small businesses.
Other examples, as per the report, referred to federal agencies’ comments prohibiting the expansion of a pipe fabrication business in Alaska, discouraging landlords from denying leases to people with criminal records, and stopping auto lenders from discriminating against clients. The White House has yet to comment.