Trump’s Midnight Regulations: Blunders of Trump in the Last Days of His Presidency

by Eli Mshomi
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President Donald Trump and executive agencies are pushing toward midnight regulations before new President Joe Biden can take office. It is common for outgoing presidential administrations to introduce new policy changes to tie the hands of the new president.

Experts believe that President Donald Trump has introduced several hard-to-undo midnight rules that will be harmful to the country.

The outgoing administration regulations will increase healthcare costs, pollution, lower nutrition standards, restrict the use of scientific methods in the government’s decision-making process, and many others.

After inauguration day, President-elect Joe Biden will immediately have to repeal these regulations.

The Trump Administration has already surpassed the previous government in finalizing federal rules during the midnight period before the presidential transition. 

According to the latest data from the Office of the Information and Regulatory Affairs, more than half of these regulations have already been passed while others remain pending. 

How is Trump framing the midnight regulations after losing the presidential elections? What is the regulatory activity of the Trump administration? Let’s have a look.

 

What are Midnight Regulations?

Federal rulemaking powers remain in the hands of the executive branch, while Congress holds the powers to pass legislation that becomes law after being signed by the president.

Midnight regulation is a term associated with those federal regulations implemented by a president during his last few months in office. 

The federal agencies submit proposals to the president to consider them and use executive orders to implement them.

This is a lengthy process, although the president can shorten it by limiting public comments on the regulations. These rules take effect after being finalized and published in the Federal Register

Nearly every president after Jimmy Carter has introduced these midnight regulations. More than half of the significant regulations of the Clinton administration were finalized during his last days in office.

George W. Bush finalized 42 percent of his regulations during lame-duck months; similarly, Barack Obama completed 38 percent in this timeframe.

President Donald Trump can finalize his midnight regulations until January 20, when President-elect Joe Biden will finally take the oath of the president. 

 

Trump Administration’s Midnight Regulations

There are a total of 76 potential midnight regulations by the Trump Administration, 67 of which have been moved ahead since the election day.

These regulations are divided into four categories. These categories, along with the explanation, are as follow: 

White House from where Trump is issuing the Midnight Regulations

White House Reviewing Proposal

These include recently proposed regulations that are still in the early process and are being reviewed by the White House. This list includes three proposals. 

 

  1. Prevention of the use of fetal tissues obtained from elective abortions in federally funded research.
  2. Making families of non-citizen immigrants ineligible for subsidized housing.
  3. Increasing the chickens slaughtering speed.

 

Proposed rules

Proposed rules are those rules that are put forward for consideration. This includes 20 regulations. 

  1. Considering performance as a factor when conducting layoffs.
  2. Weakening water protection in states.
  3.  Enabling religious entities for federal small business loans.
  4. Decreasing the amount of disaster aid for states.
  5. Creating a pilot program for underage truck drivers.
  6. Establishing pilot programs that would lengthen allowable shifts for truck drivers.
  7. Allowing gig worker companies to pay independent contractors with stocks.
  8. Easing environmental and safety requirements for oil exploration in the Arctic.
  9. Easing nutritional requirements in school lunches.
  10. Prevention of banks from withholding credit based on social, political, and environmental considerations.
  11. Making it harder for immigrants to re-open their cases.
  12. Loosening restrictions on over-fishing.
  13. Easing permits to develop near waterways and wetlands.
  14. Use of less efficient gas furnaces and water heaters.
  15. Imposing tariffs on Vietnam regarding its undervalued currency.
  16. Forcing deportation hearings for some immigrants.
  17. Designation of critical habitat.
  18. Barring work permits of immigrants with deportation orders.
  19. Allowing states to set up the Affordable Care Act outside healthcare.gov.
  20. To exclude transgender people from federally subsidized homeless shelters.

 

White House Reviewing Final Rule

These include six regulations that are the final language of the rule under review. 

  1. Easing Civil Rights Protection for the reception of Justice Department Funding.
  2. Increasing scrutiny of continuing eligibility for disability benefits.
  3.  Codifying probation on the funding of groups that provide abortions overseas.
  4. Loosening restrictions on airplanes to emit greenhouse gases.
  5. Narrowing eligibility for food stamps.
  6. Exemption of investment advisers from conflicts of interest rules.
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Rule Finalized

This includes 47 finalized rules that are set to take effect and will make it harder for the next government to undo them. 

 

  1. Loosening safety standards from gas pipeline construction.
  2. Replacing H1-B Visa with immigrant workers with the highest salaries.
  3.  Tightening eligibility for disabled veteran’s access to medical facilities.
  4. Removing penalties for accidentally killing birds.
  5. Excluding scientific studies from environmental policymaking.
  6. Broadening the definition of independent contractor.
  7. Exempting railroads from hours-of-service requirements.
  8. Allowing companies to go public without underwriters.
  9. Maintain current air pollution standards.
  10. Easing rules on national banks.
  11. Reining in zombie debt collection.
  12. Bolstering the position of faith-based organizations in government grants.
  13. Allowing tip pooling with the back of house workers.
  14. Weakening disclosure requirements for oil and gas industry payments to foreign governments.
  15. Preventing judges from using discretion in immigrant cases.
  16.  Making it harder for asylum seekers to compile their applications.
  17. Loosening efficiency standards for showerheads.
  18. Loosening efficiency standards for clothes washers and dryers.
  19. Loosening restrictions on banks acquiring deposits through brokers.
  20. Confining retirements fund pressure on the corporation.
  21. Loosening rules governing bank mergers.
  22. Loosening scrutiny of meatpackers dealing with farmers.
  23. Narrowing ground for asylum eligibility.
  24. Easing exceptions for appliance manufacturers.
  25. Repealing protections for editorial independence.
  26. Maintaining existing air pollution standards for particulate matter.
  27. Excluding secondary environmental and health benefits from evaluating regulations on air pollution.
  28. Nullifying Washington State’s lunch break rules for truck drivers.
  29. Stripping down environmental regulations for LNG exports.
  30. Reverse Obama-era decision to ensure clean-up funds.
  31. Restricting the use of agency guidance.
  32. Raising the wage minimum for visa holders.
  33. Requiring bond from visitors to leave when a visa expires.
  34. Requiring regular reviews of health care regulations.
  35. Reallocating airways from intelligent transportation to general wi-fi.
  36. Regularizing drug prices to international standards.
  37. Tightening the educational requirements of high skilled visa workers.
  38. Narrowing consumer protection for airlines.
  39. Lowering wages for immigrant farmworkers.
  40. Easing the testing requirement for energy-efficient appliances.
  41. Excluding environmental and social impact in choosing pension plan investments.
  42. Ending Medicare drug debate.
  43. Changing criteria for disability.
  44. Allowing the forest service to bypass some environmental reviews.
  45. Allowing religious exemptions for federal contracts.
  46. Allowing the use of lethal weapons other than lethal injections for execution.
  47. Allowing companies to ask for an advisory opinion on rules changes.
Joe Biden

WILMINGTON, DELAWARE – JULY 14: Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at the Chase Center July 14, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware. Biden delivered remarks on his campaign’s Build Back Better’ clean energy economic plan. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

How Will Biden Tackle these Midnight Regulations?

President-elect Joe Biden will take oath on January 20. After that, his first step is to take back as many midnight regulations implemented by President Donald Trump as possible.

The above-mentioned ”rules finalized” will be hard to undo, yet the Biden-Harris White House needs to undo these midnight regulations to push policy reforms that will help Americans come out of this crisis and lead their lives a good and healthy manner. 

According to the Biden transition team, President-elect Joe Biden will announce a memo on his first day in office to halt or delay midnight actions by the Trump administration. 

This freeze will apply to the regulations and guidance documents issued by the agencies to explain the policy action.

This includes the rule proposed by the Trump administration’s Department of Labor, which will allow contractors to give up benefits of employees such as overtime or minimum wage protection.

The Biden transition team has also hinted that Biden will issue several executive orders aimed at delivering campaign promises such as rejoining the Paris Climate Change initiative, while also rolling back midnight regulations on air and water pollution. 

President Trump is committed to making things hard for the incoming administration by introducing hard-to-undo midnight regulations.

Several of these regulations are harmful to the country, and the Biden administration plans to reverse them using the executive order once Joe Biden takes the oath of office.

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