WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has issued an executive order directing federal agencies to remove regulatory barriers to economic activity as part of a coronavirus pandemic recovery effort.
The order, issued May 19, specifically directs agency leaders to determine whether regulations modified or waived during the pandemic should be repealed permanently. It also encourages agencies to use emergency powers to support economic recovery and to find and remove additional regulatory hurdles to job creation. According to news reports, more than 600 regulations could be affected.
Russ Vought, Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget, stated, “If a bureaucratic rule needs to be suspended during a time of crisis to help the American people, we should ask ourselves if it makes sense to keep at all.”
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who supports the order, tweeted that “every regulation that was waived during this crisis should remain waived.”
Kent Lassman, president of the libertarian Competitive Enterprise Institute, approved of the order and said, “CEI has identified dozens of regulations that were never needed and now hinder response to, and recovery from, this pandemic. Widespread repeal is necessary and on the way.”
U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.), who opposes the order, tweeted that in her view the order puts workers and the environment at risk: “Step one: Remove the Inspectors General who keep an eye on wrongdoing at our federal agencies. Step two: Tell the agencies that it’s open season on measures that keep workers, consumers, and the environment safe.”
An executive order is a formal command handed down from the president to federal agencies within the executive branch. While executive orders are legally binding, they are not laws; they are instructions on how the executive branch ought to enforce the law. These instructions must line up with existing U.S. laws and the U.S. Constitution.
Executive orders are a way that presidents exercise executive control of agencies – one of five pillars key to understanding the main areas of debate about the nature and scope of the administrative state.