The chairs of the House Judiciary and Oversight and Reform committees warned the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and its Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) against engaging in “midnight rulemakings” in the waning days of the Trump administration that don’t give Congress adequate time to review the new rules.

Noting that leadership of OMB and OIRA will change with the incoming administration, “We have strong concerns that there may be last-minute roll-backs of health, safety, and environmental protections by the outgoing Trump Administration,” said Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., and Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., in a Nov. 16 letter to Russell Vought, OMB’s Acting Director.

“We are concerned that these ‘midnight rules’ may be rushed through without providing Congress adequate time to review these rules, as required by law,” the House Democrats said. The letter to OMB – which is the prime conduit for executive branch orders involving IT issues – does not mention any specific IT-related subjects.

“We request that you immediately instruct agencies to avoid promulgating midnight rules,” the committee chairs said. “We also request that you ensure that before any rule is finalized between now and January 20, 2021, it meets all legal requirements, including a notice and comment process. This is essential to ensure that agencies fully comply with their statutory obligations during the transition period – including those under the Administrative Procedure Act and the CRA – while also focusing their efforts to respond to the ongoing national public health emergency and economic recovery.”

The House Democrats sent a related letter to the general counsel of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) asking it to ensure that all executive branch rulemakings during the transition period comply with the CRA.

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John Curran
John Curran
John Curran is MeriTalk's Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.