View Full Version : Bush Makes A Power Play

07-05-2007, 09:24 AM
Bush makes a power play
Order would boost White House control of rules


July 4, 2007

WASHINGTON -- President George W. Bush is giving an obscure White House office new powers this month over regulations affecting health, worker safety and the environment.

Executive Order 13422, which is to take effect July 24, requires federal officials to show that companies, people or institutions failed to address a problem before agencies can write regulations to tackle it. It also gives political appointees greater authority over how the regulations are written.

The House, however, voted last week on a measure to prohibit the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs from spending federal money on Bush's order.

The House measure "stops this president or any president from seizing the power to rewrite almost every law that Congress passes, laws that protect public health, the environment, safety, civil rights, privacy and on and on," said Rep. Brad Miller, D-N.C., the measure's sponsor.

The vote came on an amendment to a bill that funds the White House. The bill goes to the Senate when Congress returns next week.

Bush's order:

Requires agencies to identify what it calls "market failures," in which the private sector fell short in dealing with a problem, as a factor in proposing a rule. The White House regulatory affairs office is given authority to assess those conclusions.
Says that no rulemaking can go forward without the approval of an agency's regulatory policy office to be headed by a presidential appointee.
Directs each agency to provide an estimate of costs and benefits of regulations.
Requires agencies to inform the White House regulatory affairs office of proposed significant documents on complying with rules.

"This can only further delay implementing health, safety and environmental protections," said Gary Bass, executive director of OMB Watch, a private watchdog group that joined groups including the AFL-CIO, Public Citizen and the Union of Concerned Scientists in opposing Bush's order.

In an April report, Miller's science oversight subcommittee said the regulatory office "has quietly grown into the most powerful regulatory agency in Washington."

The administration contends that Bush's order merely strengthens a 1993 directive issued by President Bill Clinton.

Andrea Wuebker, a spokeswoman for the Office of Management and Budget, said Bush's order, along with an OMB guidance bulletin, "will help increase the quality, accountability and transparency of agency guidance documents."

But the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, in an analysis in February, said the new oversight over significant guidance documents "may represent a major expansion of the office's (and therefore the president's) influence."