President Trump signed an executive order Friday establishing task forces in every agency for “removing job killing regulations and increasing economic opportunity.”
Trump, who signed the measure in the Oval Office with the chief executives from U.S. firms such as Lockheed Martin, Dow Chemical and Archer Daniels Midland standing behind him, said each task force “will make recommendations to repeal or simplify existing regulations.’’
“It will ensure that every agency has a team of dedicated people to research all regulations that are unnecessary, burdensome and harmful to the economy, and harmful to the creation of jobs and business,’’ he declared. “Every regulation should have to pass a simple test: Does it make life better or safer for American workers or consumers. If the answer is ‘no,’ if the answer is no, we will be getting rid of it and getting rid of it quickly.”
Under the 1946 Administrative Procedure Act, eliminating a rule entails a detailed process in which agencies must subject such proposals to subject comment. It typically takes at least a year and a half to wipe a rule off the books, according to the George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center, although more recent ones can be overturned more quickly by a majority vote in Congress and the president’s signature. Trump has already overturned two Obama-era rules that way and is poised to nullify others.
Earlier on Friday, speaking to activists at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Trump said that he aimed to preserve key environmental and worker safeguards but that 75 percent of all federal regulations are “horrible.”
“We’re working very hard to roll back the regulatory burden so that coal miners, factory workers, small business owners and so many others can grow their businesses and thrive,” he told reporters in the Oval Office. “We cannot allow government to be an obstacle to government opportunity.”
A coalition of public watchdog and environmental groups is already challenging a Feb. 8 executive order Trump signed that calls for the elimination of two regulations for every new one that is issued. Scott Slesinger, who serves as legislative director at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement that the latest directive also poses a threat to the public.
“Don’t be fooled,” Slesinger said. “No matter how President Trump tries to dress it up, this order is a directive to kill the safeguards Americans depend on for clean air, drinkable water and safe food.”
The group of CEOs, which also included top executives from Johnson & Johnson, United Technologies, U.S. Steel and 3M, greeted the order’s signing with applause.
Afterward, U.S. Chamber of Commerce senior vice president and chief policy officer Neil Bradley said his group would help identify some rules that could be eliminated. “We look forward to working with the federal agencies to help identify rules that harm the economy and threaten jobs,” Bradley said in a statement.
But American Sustainable Business Council CEO David Levine called the measure “misguided.”
“Regulations exist for a reason,” he said in a statement, adding that regulations protect businesses and the public “from a range of real risks and threats that markets can not adequately address. In addition, good regulations encourage innovation, a key ingredient to a robust economy. Let’s not lose those vital benefits.”