Will President Biden Have Greater Control Over Independent Agencies than His Predecessors?
For decades, Executive Orders requiring executive branch agencies to submit draft regulatory proposals to the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) have exempted independent agencies. A lingering question has been whether this is because the White House lacks the authority to impose such requirements on independent agencies, because the Executive Branch sought to respect the functional independence of such agencies, or because no Administration wanted to risk asserting such authority and then getting rebuffed in Court.
In October 2019, the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel conducted a review of this question, and concluded that the President could indeed require independent agencies to comply with the regulatory review requirements of Executive Order 12866. The memo was not released publicly, however, until this week, when it was posted on the DOJ website.
The introduction to the 31-page memo, “Extending Regulatory Review Under Executive Order 12866 to Independent Regulatory Agencies.” reads:
You have asked whether the President may direct independent regulatory agencies to comply with the centralized regulatory review process of Executive Order 12866 of September 30, 1993, 3 C.F.R. 638 (1994) (“EO 12866”). EO 12866 requires all agencies to submit an annual regulatory plan and agenda to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (“OIRA”) in the Office of Mana
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