Businesses should see the agenda as a list of what the government has in store for the regulated community and a preview of what actions from Washington, D.C. may impact their daily operations. Let’s review a few of the highlights, starting with the Department of Labor and its 71 pending rules.
Every August, the U.S. Congress leaves Washington, D.C., for a month-long break. During that time, we often see increased regulatory action to fill the federal policymaking void. We are receiving word to, again, expect a busy month ahead as the Labor Department prepares to finalize two significant actions.
The U.S. House of Representatives only has 12 days left in its summer session prior to a scheduled departure on July 28, with lawmakers not slated to return to Washington, D.C. until September 12. The 45-day “District Work Period” is quite the lengthy sojourn from the halls of Congress. Lawmakers will use the six weeks away to meet with constituents, travel overseas and, yes, take a vacation.
I am often asked why the Biden administration would have some of its federal agencies issue rules promoting manufacturing in America while another proposes new regulations that hurt manufacturing in America. They are, of course, typically referring to the EPA or Labor Department. According to the most recent federal regulatory agenda, the EPA listed 148 rulemaking actions it intends to take in the coming year. Then there is the Department of Energy, which, on some issues, you can think of as the good cop to EPA’s bad cop.
President Biden will sit down in the White House on May 9 with the top-four leaders from Capitol Hill to begin discussions to prevent the U.S. government from default by exceeding its borrowing limit. The Treasury Department set a June 1 deadline for the debt-ceiling breach. However, most here in Washington, D.C. are skeptical that this is the actual deadline because the GOP accuses the White House of trying to force them to the table.
In the first two weeks of April 2023, which comprised all of 10 business days, federal regulators finalized 132 new rules and proposed another 112. These actions and other notices from government agencies added up to 3,773 pages in the Federal Register, bringing the 2023 total to 23,284 pages. Of those, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) accounted for nine rules, 12 proposed rules and 39 notices.
The U.S. Congress left Washington, D.C. for its annual two-week Easter recess on March 30, not to return until April 17. Prior to their departure, House Republicans passed an energy package that has zero chance of moving in the Democrat-controlled Senate. The GOP also has yet to offer its own federal budget proposal in response to the one released by President Biden on March 9, causing the White House to attack the party and refuse to meet with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) to discuss the looming debt-ceiling crisis.