Here Are the 298 Costliest Rules in the New Unified Agenda of Federal Regulations

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No matter the presidential administration, federal agencies issue thousands of rules and regulations every year compared to a relative handful of laws passed by Congress.

There was a partial reprieve from Washington’s big-government ways between 2017 and 2020 from Trump administration moves like an executive order requiring some agencies to ditch at least two rules for every significant action they added. (Some successes and failures of the Trump program were covered here.)

The Biden White House’s new Spring 2021 Unified Agenda of Federal Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions was just released (and was profiled in Forbes here and also here). The Agenda since 1981 has provided a partial look at the executive branch’s regulatory priorities. Under Biden, those have definitely changed.

One of those priorities, the abandonment of the just-noted Trump program to attempt the elimination of two regulations for every “significant regulatory action” adopted, was achieved on day one by Biden. The Unified Agenda makes clear that Biden’s activist ambitions go well beyond, covering health, climate change and social programs.

Overall, the Agenda reveals that 72 departments, agencies and commissions are juggling 3,959 rules and regulations at the “Active,” “Completed,” and “Long-term” stages of the regulatory pipeline. The Agenda presents such a snapshot twice a year. There’ll be another in December.

As regulatory geekdom is well aware, though, the costliest among the 1,515 “significant rules” in the Agenda get further classified as “economically significant,” loosely meaning means they exhibit additional heft by sporting at least $100 million in annual effect, either adding costs or reducing them. Shock: it’s usually the former.

Among these 3,959 rules, there are 298 “economically significant” ones (a slight change from 297 on day of release; not the first time a slight recount or reclassification has happened). These break down as follows: 190 Active (69 of which are appearing in the Agenda for the first time); 65 Recently completed; and 43 Long-term. The chart below breaks this count down by issuer.

Comparatively, there had been 261 economically significant rules in the Trump White House’s final December 2020 Agenda, broken down as follows: 173 Active, 58 Recently completed, and 30 Long-term. As discussed before, Trump’s “high” count was amplified by the need to write a rule to eliminate a rule in pursuit of the in/out goal. Reflecting that, 36 of Trump’s economically significant rules at the time were classified “Deregulatory,” a distinction now eliminated by the White House. In fact the “Deregulatory” and “Regulatory” classifications captured in early 2021 this screenshot of the “Reginfo” database search page have disappeared under Biden. These classifications improved disclosure and ought to have been retained.

Read the full article at Forbes.