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(Reuters) — President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Friday to place "regulatory reform" task forces within federal agencies in what may be the most far-reaching effort to pare back U.S. red tape in recent decades.
Mr. Trump signed the directive in the Oval Office with chief executives of major U.S. corporations standing behind him including Dow Chemical Co., Lockheed Martin Corp. and U.S. Steel Corp.
The order directs every federal agency to establish a task force to ensure each has a team to research all regulations and take aim at those deemed burdensome to the U.S. economy.
"Excessive regulation is killing jobs, driving companies out of our country like never before," Mr. Trump said before signing the order. "Every regulation should have to pass a simple test; does it make life better or safer for American workers or consumers?"
The effort is part of a Republican push to undo many of the actions of former President Barack Obama, who left office last month after two four-year terms.
In 1981, President Ronald Reagan created a presidential task force on regulatory relief but that effort did not establish task forces at the cabinet level. Other presidents including Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, carried out attempts to reduce or streamline government regulations.
Mr. Trump's order requires agencies to "measure and report progress in achieving the president’s directives." Each task force will make recommendations on which regulations to repeal or simplify, Mr. Trump said.
Mr. Trump on Friday said the United States does not need "75% of the repetitive, horrible regulations that hurt companies, hurt jobs."
The Republican has vowed a sweeping cut in U.S. regulations and previously ordered agencies to repeal two rules for every new one adopted.
Mr. Trump's chief strategist, Steve Bannon, told a gathering of conservatives on Thursday that deregulation, which he called "the deconstruction of the administrative state," was a top priority for the administration.
The Trump administration says executive orders from the previous government cost hundreds of billions of dollars. The Obama administration said the benefits of those regulations to the public far outweighed the costs.
The White House said the Obama administration finalized more than 3,000 regulations. Many of those were required by Congress.
Robert Verchick, president of the Center for Progressive Reform, a think tank, criticized Mr. Trump's new order as "clearly aimed at embedding his overtly political, anti-protections agenda at federal agencies that are supposed to be using science and expertise to safeguard us all."
The order Mr. Trump signed in January sets an annual cap on the cost of new regulations but does not apply to most financial reform rules introduced by the Obama administration.
The Trump administration also ordered a freeze on regulations pending review and has stopped some regulations from taking effect.
The U.S. Transportation Department said earlier this month it was delaying until March 21 the implementation of a regulation finalized by Mr. Obama in November setting minimum sound requirements for hybrid and electric vehicles.
The long-delayed rules require quiet cars to emit alert sounds when they are moving at speeds of up to 18.6 miles per hour (30 kph) to help prevent injuries among pedestrians, cyclists and the blind. The Obama administration said the rules will cost the auto industry about $39 million annually because automakers will need to add an external waterproof speaker to comply.
An executive order issued by President Donald Trump on Monday could significantly limit or even halt the introduction of new regulations over the next several years by the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration and may put several recently passed regulations in jeopardy.