Hours after President Obama took office, his Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, issued a memorandum immediately suspending all proposed or final non-emergency regulations that have not been published in the Federal Register. In the memorandum, Emanuel stressed that, “[i]t is important that President Obama’s appointees and designees have the opportunity to review and approve any new or pending regulations.” As such, the memo calls for executive departments and agencies to:

  • Except for regulations that OMB approves as relating to certain emergency situations or circumstances relating to “health, safety, environmental, financial, or national security matters,” not send any proposed or final regulations for publication in the Federal Register until they have been reviewed and approved by the appropriate agency or department head appointed by President Obama;
  • Withdraw from publication in the Federal Register all proposed or final regulations already submitted until they have been similarly reviewed and approved; and
  • Consider extending for 60 days the effective date of those regulations that have been published, but have not taken effect (subject to the emergency exception), and reopen the notice and comment period for 30 days. At the end of the 60 days, no further action would be required for those rules that raise no “substantial questions of law or policy”, but the memorandum requests that each agency notify the OMB Director and take appropriate action for those rules that do raise “substantial questions of law or policy.”  

The suspension does not apply to regulations subject to statutory or judicial deadlines and all agencies are required to remain in compliance with any Executive Orders concerning regulatory management. The conditions set forth in the memorandum will be published in the Federal Register on Monday, January 26, 2009.