The Shutdown Is Over: What Now for Regulation?

The federal government welcomed back its furloughed workers this morning after Congress and the president reached a deal to raise the debt ceiling. All is back to normal, though one could certainly debate if this is a good thing. As I pointed out here and here, most shutdowns follow a similar script, so far as regulation is concerned.

There was a flux of new rules leading up to the shutdown, as agencies tried to hurry what they could before going on furlough. Once the shutdown hit, new regulations slowed to a trickle. Last week, the first full week, had just 6 new final rules in the Federal Register; a normal week sees 70-80 new regulations. This week has been just as slow, with just 3 new rules through Thursday.

The next day or two will also be slow ones for the Federal Register. But then there will be a flood of new rules as agencies make up for lost time. After the second Gingrich-Clinton showdown ended, there were 82 rules published in a single day. Since this shutdown was about two weeks long, the coming spike could be in the same league. We’ll find out on Monday or Tuesday, depending on how long it takes agencies to rev up their regulatory engines.