still can't find what I read but I did find this. Democrats Eye Bush Midnight Regulations By Cindy Skrzycki Tuesday, November 11, 2008; D03
As President-elect Barack Obama
's transition team prepares for the Jan. 20 inauguration, it is tracking the "midnight" regulations being churned out in the final days of the Bush administration.
Regulatory policy may not have as high a profile as economic issues and foreign policy for Obama. Still, many of these latter-day Bush rules are flash points for liberal public-interest groups, Democrats in Congress and the business community. Among the regulations being monitored are a proposal to end a ban on carrying loaded guns in national parks
, a plan that could make it harder for women to get federally funded reproductive health care, and a Labor Department proposal to change the way regulators assess risk for jobs, especially those that expose workers to chemicals.
"These are the ones worth watching," said Matt Madia, regulatory policy analyst at OMB Watch, a nonprofit group critical of many Bush regulatory policies. "Most of them relax existing requirements. They make it easier for industries to pollute or deny a worker medical leaves."
Some 130 rules could be completed before Bush leaves. The White House
has finished reviews of 100 rules since Sept. 1, up from 36 in the same period last year. Representatives of chemical makers, scallop fishermen and kidney dialysis companies are among those who have pressed their cases with White House officials in recent weeks, according to a public list of the meetings.
The new president may issue executive orders to reverse some Bush policies and may get help from a law passed by the Republican-controlled Congress in 1996 to review and eliminate Clinton-era rules it didn't like. The law has been successfully used once, in 2001, to kill a rule designed to prevent repetitive motion injuries in the workplace.
The same day President Bush
was inaugurated in 2001, Andrew Card
, who was the White House chief of staff, issued an order blocking Clinton regulations that hadn't taken effect. Ninety final rules had their effective dates delayed, according to a 2002 General Accounting Office
To avoid a similar fate when Obama takes office, Bush regulators issued a call for what could be called 11 o'clock regulations. In May, White House Chief of Staff Joshua B. Bolten
told agencies that except in "extraordinary circumstances," they should propose rules by June 1 so final versions could be issued by Nov. 1.
That gave them time to take effect before Obama is sworn in. Final rules often are challenged in court. Congressional Democrats say they are being vigilant. On Halloween, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
of California issued a list of "Ghoulish Midnight Regulations'' -- 11 Bush rules that involve changes in laws governing such issues as air pollution limits, disability rights, Medicaid
reimbursement and how long truck drivers can be on the road.
"This is just a sampling," Nadeam Elshami, a Pelosi spokesman, said of the list. "We are talking to committee chairs on how to stop or reverse them."
One possibility is blocking funding. Another is the law Republicans aimed at Clinton rules.
With a Democratic Congress and president, the stars are lined up to meet the complicated procedural deadlines of the Congressional Review Act. Rules issued after mid-May potentially would be eligible to be disapproved during the next session of Congress.
"The Congressional Review Act, only being used once before, does add a new weapon and complication to the process," said Randel Johnson
, vice president of labor, immigration and employee benefits at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Trial lawyers, who often sue corporations on behalf of consumers, say more than 60 rules contain provisions making it impossible to sue in state courts for negligence on the part of manufacturers.
These preemption clauses are part of safety regulations issued by the Food and Drug Administration
and Department of Transportation
rules covering the operation of door locks, how many seat belts must be in a vehicle, and the required strength of vehicle roofs to withstand rollovers, according to the American Association for Justice, a trial lawyers' trade group.
"The next administration has the task of addressing these in a timely fashion," said Gerie Voss, director of regulatory affairs at the American Association for Justice. In September, the Institute for the Study of Regulation at the New York University School of Law
wrote to the White House to complain that at least three new rules violated the Bolten decree against what the institute called "last-minute" policymaking.
Susan Dudley, the White house's top rule reviewer, responded in an Oct. 9 letter, saying that the memo wasn't "intended to be a moratorium." She also signaled that there will be post-November Bush rulemaking. The Bolten memo contemplates it would be appropriate, with White House approval, for some rules to proceed "without regard to deadlines." Cindy Skrzycki is a regulatory columnist with Bloomberg News. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org