Report: Trump Halted $181 Billion in Regulatory Costs on First Day in Office

Regulation freeze stops Obama administration's pending rules

Donald Trump
January 31, 2017

In one of his first acts as president, Donald Trump effectively halted nearly $200 billion worth of regulations, according to a new analysis.

President Trump has taken aggressive action to curb regulations in his first week, promising to cut 75 percent or "maybe more," and signing an executive order Monday to cut two regulations from the books when every new rule is introduced.

The first move came in the form of a memo to all federal agencies from Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, freezing all recently finalized and pending regulations. The American Action Forum, a center-right policy institute, found the action resulted in stopping rules that would cost the economy $181 billion.

"On day one in office, President Trump’s Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus, signed a memo to all executive agencies imposing a regulatory moratorium," wrote Sam Batkins, director of regulatory policy for the American Action Forum. "This may sound like an extraordinary action, but President Obama’s then-Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, penned an almost identical memo eight years ago."

"According to American Action Forum (AAF) research, this memo put a hold on $181 billion in total regulatory costs, including $17 billion in annual costs, and 5.5 million hours of paperwork," Batkins wrote. "This moratorium freezes 22 rulemakings with annual costs above $100 million and 16 measures with more than $1 billion in long-term costs."

The Trump administration memo stopped the publication of new rules in the Federal Register, withdrew regulations that were sent for formal publication so they can be reviewed, and postponed recently finalized regulations for 60 days.

The American Action Forum found 206 rules that are subject to the administration memo, including five major rules that will likely be scaled back or withdrawn altogether.

One rule halted was the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Department of Transportation's plan to mandate all new cars, vans, and SUVs install technology that would share their speed and brake status information with nearby vehicles.

The Vehicle-to-Vehicle Communications rule would have cost an estimated $108 billion. The regulation is in its beginning stages, with plans to finalize in 2019.

The American Action Forum said the Trump administration "will almost surely veto" any attempt to move the regulation to the final-rule stage.

Other costly regulations that were pushed through in the final days of the Obama administration are also likely to not move forward. A $12.3 billion final regulation imposing stricter energy rules for air conditioners can be withdrawn if it received opposing comments, a "virtual certainty," the American Action Forum said.

Additionally, new efficiency standards for furnaces that cost $9.2 billion, and efficiency standards for battery chargers costing $4.6 billion, have been put on hold.

A $5.7 billion rule stemming from Obamacare that includes addressing "discriminatory behavior by healthcare providers that may create real or perceived barriers to care" in rural hospitals is also likely subject to the freeze.

The Environmental Protection Agency has already frozen 30 regulations in response to the memo, including the Renewable Fuels Standard, which would have cost $1.5 billion.

The American Action Forum concluded the Trump administration's regulatory freeze could have a major impact given the record amount of rules President Obama pushed while in office and during his final days in the White House.

"The regulatory moratorium from Reince Priebus was anything but an extreme measure. It is standard operating procedure for a new president to take stock of the existing regulatory landscape," Batkins said. "What was extraordinary was that the previous administration had $181 billion in regulatory burdens, 16 billion-dollar rules, and millions of hours of new paperwork pending in the system."

"It’s unlikely the regulatory freeze lasts for longer than a few months, but it’s a certainty that the administration will scrutinize all pending major rules and determine those that adequately protect public health and safety and those that could harm economic growth," Batkins added.