Get Even More Visitors To Your Blog, Upgrade To A Business Listing >>

Tracking Trump Administration’s Midnight Regulations

The Trump's Administration is Rushing to Implement Dozens of Policy Changes in its Final Days.

Even as Trump Refuses to Concede Defeat, his White House and Executive Agencies are Racing to Finalize his Policy Priorities before President-Elect Joe Biden takes Office on Jan. 20, 2020.

It’s common for Outgoing Administrations to rush through Last-Minute Rules, but these “midnight regulations” can sometimes Shortchange Public Input or thorough Analysis, and they may tie the hands of the Incoming President.

Rules Finalized

Allowing Companies to Ask for Advisory Opinions on Rule Changes: This Policy Statement sets forth how Regulated Entities may ask for an Advisory Opinion from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on how it intends to Interpret a Rule. Consumer Advocates worry that the New Process will Exclude Public Input and allow Companies to seek Favorable Guidance.

Changing Criteria for Disability Benefits: The Social Security Administration Changed the Criteria for Disability Benefits for Musculoskeletal Disorders like Spine Injuries or Amputations. Disability Advocates such as the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives said the Rule would make it more Difficult for People to Qualify.

Narrowing Consumer Protections for Airlines: At the behest of Airline Lobbyists and over the Objection of Consumer Groups, this Rule will Raise the Bar for Regulators to Challenge Unfair and Deceptive Business Practices and give Companies a Bigger Chance to Fight back at Formal Hearings.

Excluding Environmental and Social Impact in Choosing Pension Plan Investments: This Rule makes it more Difficult for Pension Managers to Choose Investments based on anything other than Financial Factors, such as a Company's Climate Change Impact or Workforce Benefits.

Voiding Washington State's Meal and Rest Break Rules for Truck Drivers: In 2019, the Trucking Industry in Washington State asked Federal Regulators to Obviate, or Preempt, a New State Law requiring a Higher Number of Meal and Rest Breaks than Mandated under Nationwide Standards. On Nov. 17th, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Granted that Petition.

Reallocating Airwaves From Intelligent Transportation to General Wi-Fi: The Federal Communications Commission voted Unanimously to Reassign Airwaves, or "spectrum", previously Reserved for Connected Transportation to General Unlicensed Wi-Fi use. The Change was Opposed by Driverless Car Companies, Highway Safety Advocacy gGoups, and All 50 State Transportation Departments, as well as the Federal Department of Transportation.

Restricting the Use of Agency Guidance: Several Agencies, including: the Department of Housing and Urban Development; the Social Security Administration; the Department of the Interior; and the Department of Veterans Affairs, are Narrowing the use of Policy Statements known as Guidance, which allow Regulators to Clarify their Interpretation of Rules. The New Rules clarify that Guidance isNnonbinding and Allow for more Industry Input. This Effort began with an Executive Order in 2019, and Agencies are Finishing its Implementation, making it Harder to Undo than the Executive Order alone.

Allowing Federal Death Row Inmates to Be Executed by Means Other Than Lethal Injection: This Rule would Broaden the Acceptable forms of Federal Capital Punishment to include Methods that are or may soon be Legal in various States, such as Firing Squads and Electrocution. The Trump Administration has Restarted Federal Executions, which President-Elect, Joe Biden, has said he would Not Allow.

Ending Medicare Drug Rebates: This Rule would End Drug Company Payments to Middlemen in Medicare. Health Plans Oppose it because they would get Stuck Covering Higher Drug Costs. The Trump Administration says this Proposal will Lower Drug Prices, but it has Backed-Off before over Concerns that it could Lead to Higher Premiums.

Allowing the Forest Service to Bypass Some Environmental Reviews: By allowing the Forest Service to Skip Environmental Reviews, the Trump Administration says it's making it Easier to Maintain Roads, Trails, and Campgrounds. But Opponents say the Rule clears the way for Officials to Allow Logging and New Roads without Studying the Environmental Harm and seeking Public Input.

Restricting High-Skilled Immigrant Work Visas by Raising Wage Minimums for Visa Holders: This Regulation went into effect immediately when issued on Oct. 8th, although a Public Comment Period remained Open through Nov. 9th. It Overhauls the Rubrics that Set how much Employers must Pay an Immigrant to Sponsor them on a Temporary H-1B "high skilled" Worker Visa. New Wage Standards are substantially Higher, making many would-be Immigrants suddenly Ineligible.

Lowering Wages for Immigrant Farmworkers: This Regulation Changes the Scale used to determine how much Employers must Pay Immigrant Farmworkers on Temporary H-2A Work Visas, Freezing it for Two years. Farmworker Groups Oppose the change, saying that it will Lower Pay for both U.S.-born and Immigrant Workers, even as there's a Worker Shortage in the Midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Narrowing Eligibility for High-Skilled Work Visas by Tightening Educational Requirements: This Regulation, published in October 2020 as an "interim final rule" to go into effect in December, boosts the Requirements for Employers hoping to Sponsor Immigrants on High-Skilled Work Visas. It demands Higher Educational Attainment for these Jobs, and Expands the Definition of Off-Site Work, which is treated with more Scrutiny in Visa Applications.

Requiring Some Visitors to the U.S. to Post Bond So They Leave When Their Visas Expire: This "Temporary" Final Rule, set to go into effect in December, creates a Pilot Program allowing the Department of State to Require some Visitors to the U.S. on Business or Tourist Visas to Post upto $15,000 as a Bond, which will be Returned to them once they leave the United States.

Pegging Drug Prices to an International Index: Medicare will Cut Prescription Drug Prices by Linking Costs to what's Paid Overseas. The Administration Skipped the Typical Process of Publishing a Proposal and Collecting Public Input. Drugmakers Oppose the New Policy and are all but certain to Sue.

Loosens Testing Requirements for Energy-Efficient Appliances: The Rule would make it Easier for Manufacturers of Appliances, including Dishwashers and Air Conditioners, to Create their Own Testing Procedures to determine whether the Equipment meets the Department of Energy's Energy or Water Efficiency Standards. Environmental Advocates fear it would allow Companies to Sell Appliances that are Less Energy Efficient than they Claim.

White House Reviewing Final Rule

Curbing Shareholder Pressure: This Rule would make it Harder for Shareholders to Challenge Executives through so-called Proxy Voting. Critics such as Investor Advocates for Social Justice and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System say it will Reduce Corporate Accountabiltiy and Oversight.

Allowing Tip Pooling With Back-of-House Restaurant Workers" After Congress thwarted the Department's Initial attempt to Allow Employers to Skim Tips as long as Workers were still making at least the Minimum Wage, this New Rulemaking would Only let Servers Pool Tips with Cooks and other Nontipped Staff. According to the Government's Analysis, that could still Result in a Small Transfer to Employers if they were able to Reduce the Pay of Back-of-House Workers.

Exempting Investment Advisers From Conflict of Interest Rules: This would Exempt Financial Advisers and Institutions from an Obama-era Rule that Prevents them from taking Commissions from the Investments they Recommend for Clients. The Public had 30 days to weigh in instead of the usual 60.

Allowing Religious Exemptions for Federal Contractors: Sent to the White House on Election Day after an Abbreviated Window for Public Input that nevertheless drew Widespread Objections, this Rule would allow Religiously-motivated Institutions with Federal Contracts, including For-Profit Companies, to Not Hire People based on their Faith.

Excluding Secondary Environmental and Health Benefits From Evaluating Regulations on Air Pollution: This Rule would make it Harder to Justify Air Pollution Limits by Changing the way the Environmental Protection Agency Calculates Costs and Benefits. Specifically, the Agency wouldn't be Allowed to consider Ancillary Benefits, such as Reducing Climate-Warming Greenhouse Gases as a Byproduct of Restricting Mercury Pollution.

Removing Penalties for Accidentally Killing Birds: In 2017, the Fish and Wildlife Service issued a Legal Opinion interpreting the Migratory Bird Treaty Act to only Forbid Lilling Birds Intentionally, not Incidentally in the course of Industrial Activities like Oil Drilling. The Agency was Sued, and in 2020 a Judge Restored some Protections for the Birds, the Service nevertheless continued a Rule-Making Process to Formalize the Opinion, and a Final Rule is expected in the coming Months.

Loosening Efficiency Standards for Showerheads: This Rule, which popped up days after Trump publicly Complained about a supposed Lack of Water Pressure in Modern Appliances, would Loosen Long-Standing Requirements that Showerheads Conserve Water. It's Opposed by: Environmentalists; Plumbing Manufacturers; Consumer Groups; and Utilities.

Narrowing Eligibility for Food Stamps: This Rule would Remove about 3 Million Individuals from Food Stamp Rolls by Changing Eligibility so that Recipients of other Types of Benefits do Not Automatically Qualify. Advocacy Groups say the Change will put more People at Risk of Hunger during the Pandemic.

Loosening Efficiency Standards for Clothes Washers and Dryers: This Rule would Loosen Water and Energy Efficiency Standards by creating a Separate Class of Clothes Washers and Dryers based on how Long they take to Complete a Load. More Efficient Washers use Less Water, and take Longer, because they Require more Time for the Soap to Penetrate Soiled Clothes. Major Manufacturers Oppose the Change, but Small-Government Conservatives still Want to Slash Regulation.

Bolstering the Position of Faith-Based Organizations in Justice Department Grant-Making: This Rule strengthens the Rights of Faith-based Organizations to Compete for Department of Justice Grants, and it Includes Language that would Protect them from any Funding Conditions that would Require them to Change their Religious Practices.

Excluding Scientific Studies From Environmental Policy-Making: Known to its Supporters as the "Secret Science" or "Transparency" Rule, and to its Opponents as the "Censored Science" Rule, it would Limit the Environmental Protection Agency's Ability to consider Scientific Research where the Raw Data isn't completely Public. It could Exclude many Epidemiology and Public Health Studies where the Raw Data contains Private Medical Information.

Maintaining Existing Air Pollution Standards for Particulate Matter (Soot): The Decision would keep the National Particulate Pollution Standard Unchanged, despite Advice from Independent Scientists who said Tightening the Standard would Avoid Tens of Thousands of Early Deaths each year. The Pollutant causes Respiratory and Cardiovascular Problems, and Emerging Research has tied it to Coronavirus Deaths. If the Trump Administration Finalizes the Rule, it would Delay Stricter Standards by at least Five years.

Preventing Judges From Using Discretion to Close Immigration Cases: Among other things, this Rule would Eliminate the Ability of Immigration Judges to "administratively close" a Case against an Immigrant, and Stopping Deportation Orders. Administrative Closure was Frequently used by the Obama Administration. The Trump Administration has Stopped Judges from using Administrative Closures, and it now seeks to make it much Harder for Presiden-Elect Joe Biden to Revive them.

Radically Narrowing the Grounds for Asylum Eligibility: This Regulation would Codify many of the Precedents the Trump Department of Justice has set Restricting Asylum Eligibility, making it much Harder for a Biden Administration to Undo those changes. It would specifically rule out most of the most common arguments used by Central Americans seeking asylum.

Allowing States to Set Up Accordable Care Act Insurance Portals Outside In its Annual Notice of Benefits and Payment Parameters for Insurance Plans purchased through State Exchanges, the Department Proposed allowing States to Transfer their Portals to Private Providers, essentially Decommissioning except for Limited Functions. The Rule has a shortened Comment period of 30 days.

Making It Harder for Immigrants to Reopen Their Cases: Often, Immigrants are Ordered Deported because they Missed their Court Dates, sometimes through No Fault of their Own. This Regulation would make it Harder for such Immigrants to Reopen their Cases and Seek Relief.

Forcing Deportation Hearings for Some Immigrants Who Have Pending Applications for Legal Status: By Redefining what Counts as "Good Cause" to Postpone a Deportation Hearing, this Regulation would make it Harder for Immigrants to get Postponements. It would generally Prevent Judges from Postponing Deportation Hearings to see if a Pending Application for Legal Status is Approved.

Relaxing Nutritional Requirements for School Lunches: After Losing in Court on a Previous Attempt, the Department of Agriculture is trying again to Relax Nutrutional Requirements for School Lunches, allowing more Salt, White Flour, and Flavored Milk. Even with an Abbreviated Comment period, the Rule would be Tough to Finalize before Jan. 20th.

Broadening the Definition of Independent Contractor: This Rule Expands the Definition of when an Employee can be considered an Independent Contractor for Purposes of Benefits and Labor Laws, Advantaging "Gig Economy" Companies like Uber and DoorDash. The Public had 30 days to Submit Comments, Half the Typical Period. The Department of Labor said that "the lack of regulatory guidance underscores the need for an expedient rulemaking."

Imposing Tariffs on Vietnam on the Basis of Its "Undervalued" Currency: An Investigation found that Vietnam was Selling Tires at Subsidized Prices on the U.S. Market, laying the Legal Groundwork for Tariffs. More importantly, this is the First time an "undervalued" Currency has been used as a Factor in the Subsidy Calculation, drawing Objections from those who believe that Trade Policy shouldn't intervene in Foreign Exchange Markets.

Allowing Federally Subsidized Homeless Shelters to Exclude Transgender People: This Rule would Allow Housing and Urban Development-funded Homeless Shelters, when Segregating Men and Women, to Assign Transgender People to an area based on their Biological Sex, rather than the Individual's Self-Identification.

Split-Duty Pilot Program: Currently, a Freight Truck Driver's On-Duty Shift must End no longer than 14 hours after it Starts. The proposed Pilot Program would Experiment with allowing a Midshift Break, extending the Period of Time before they would have a Longer Rest. Highway Safety Groups worry that it would only Exacerbate Driver Fatigue and Lead to more Crashes.

Under-21 Driver Pilot Program: In response to Trucking Industry Complaints that Companies can't find enough Drivers, the Department of Transportation proposed a Pilot Program that would allow 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds to operate Long-Haul Trucks. Labor and Road Safety Groups Oppose the Idea.

Endangered and Threatened Species: Regulations for Designating Critical Habitat: ThisRrule clarifies Standards for Designating Endangered Species Habitats to give more Weight to Landowners' Rights and Economic Factors, making it Less likely that Land will be Protected for Wildlife Preservation. The Agency allowed only 30 days to Comment, rather than the usual 60.

Loosening Permits to Develop Near Waterways and Wetlands: This Rule would Expedite the Permits for many Activities Regulated by the Clean Water Act. Some of the Items are relatively Innocuous, such as Boat Ramps. But others, such as Oil and Gas Pipelines or Surface Coal Mining, have Huge impacts that Environmentalists say shouldn't get Waved through Without Scrutiny.

Army Corps of Engineers Barring Work Permits for Immigrants With Deportation Orders: Some Immigrants who get Final Deportation Orders end up Staying in the U.S. for a time, usually because their Home Countries Won't accept Deportees. This Rule would Prevent such Immigrants from being able to Legally Work in the U.S. The Truncated Comment Period for the Proposed Rule Ends in Mid-December, making it unlikely, though Not impossible, that it will be Finalized before the Inauguration.

Requiring Regular Review of Health Care Regulations: This Rule would Purge Health Care Regulations after 10 years unless the Agency decides to Preserve them. Reviewing all those Old Regulations could be a Major Drain on the Agency's Resources, while Scrubbing Existing Rules could Upend the Highly Regulated Health Care Industry.

Making It Harder for Asylum-Seekers to Compile Their Applications — and Easier for Judges to Cherry-Pick Evidence: This Rule makes it More Difficult for Asylum-Seekers to Submit Evidence in their Legal Cases, Reduces the time they have to File an Application before a Judge and makes it Easier for Judges to Pick and Choose which Evidence to consider.

Loosening Restrictions on Overfishing: This Proposal would Increase the Allowable Level of Risk of Overfishing when Setting Caps on Catches for Certain Species. It allows only Two Weeks for Public Input, instead of the typical 60 days.

Preventing Banks From Withholding Credit on the Basis of Social, Political or Environmental Considerations: As Activists increasingly Pressure Banks not to Finance Carbon-Intensive Projects such as Oil Pipelines and Fracking, or Companies like Payday Lenders and Firearms Dealers, this Rule would Require that Llenders Evaluate Borrowers purely on Financial Metrics, with No regard for their Potential Broader Impact.

Locks in Use of Less Efficient Gas Furnaces and Water Heaters: This Rule would Lock-In Future Use of Less-Efficientc Gas Furnaces and Water Heaters. It would make it very Difficult, if not Impossible, for the Biden Administration to Increase Efficiency Standards for these Products.

Preventing the Use of Fetal Tissue Obtained From Elective Abortions in Federally Funded Research: In June 2019, the Department of Health and Human Services declared that it would No Longer Fund Research using Fetal Issue from Elective Abortions, even Cutting Off a Multiyear Grant for Developing HIV Therapies. This Rule would Codify that Policy, which Experts worry could Slow Down Research on Diseases like Parkinson's and Diabetes.

Making Families of Noncitizen Immigrants Ineligible for Subsidized Housing: Earlier in 2019, the Department of Housing and Urban Development proposed a Rule Denying Subsidized Housing for the Ffamilies of Noncitizen Immigrants. Now, the Department of Agriculture is doing the same for the Rural Housing Service, which could Result in the Eviction of many Low-Income Families.

Increasing the Speed at Which Chickens May Be Slaughtered: Under this Rule Chicken Factories would be allowed to run Faster, Increasing potential Pprofits but putting Workers at Higher Risk of Injuries like Amputations and Carpal Tunnel. These Safety concerns thwarted a Previous Effort to Raise Speeds during the Obama Administration, but the Trump Administration issued Case-by-Case Waivers allowing some Plants to Speed Up anyway, laying the Groundwork for an Across-the-Board Increase. This Process usually takes about Two years, so it's Not Clear if this Rule can be Finished before Dec. 20th.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker


This post first appeared on The Independent View, please read the originial post: here

Share the post

Tracking Trump Administration’s Midnight Regulations


Subscribe to The Independent View

Get updates delivered right to your inbox!

Thank you for your subscription