Biden Unveils Federal Regulations Unified Agenda for Fall 2023

The Biden Administration’s Fall 2023 Unified Agenda

The Biden Administration’s Fall 2023 Unified Agenda


Since the early 1980s, federal departments and agencies have been publishing the Unified Agenda of Federal Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions to prioritize rulemaking activities. The Fall 2023 edition of the Unified Agenda has just been released by the Biden administration.

Changes in Priorities

Traditionally, the Unified Agenda focused on paperwork reduction, regulatory oversight, and balancing costs and benefits. However, under President Biden, the emphasis has shifted to advancing “net benefits” as progressives perceive them. This change is a result of Biden’s Executive Order 14,094 on “Modernizing Regulatory Review,” which has transformed the White House Office of Management and Budget’s approach to rulemaking.

Top-Down Campaigns

The Biden administration’s OMB is now facilitating “whole-of-government” campaigns on various issues like climate change, energy policy, water, air quality, chemical regulation, transmission grid regulation, and financial regulations related to climate disclosure. These campaigns reflect the administration’s priorities and will likely result in an increase in rule volume in future editions of the Unified Agenda.

Key Features of the Fall 2023 Edition

The Fall 2023 edition of the Unified Agenda provides valuable insights into the Biden administration’s plans and priorities. It aligns with initiatives like the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the Inflation Reduction Act, and the CHIPS and Science Act. It also reflects the administration’s focus on economic prosperity, equity, climate crisis, and public health.

Revised Guidance

This edition is significant because it follows the revision of the longstanding “Circular A-4” guidance to agencies on regulatory analysis. The revised guidance reflects the Biden administration’s mission and approach to rulemaking.

Raising the Bar for “Significant Regulatory Action”

Additionally, the Fall 2023 edition is the first to fully incorporate Biden’s Executive Order 14,094, which raises the threshold for what qualifies as a “significant regulatory action” to $200 million in annual economic effects. This change signifies a shift towards more comprehensive analysis and consideration of the impact of regulations.

Overview of the Pipeline

The Unified Agenda and the Federal Register demonstrate that federal agencies issue thousands of rules and regulations each year. In the Fall 2023 edition, there are 3,599 rules from over 60 federal departments, agencies, and commissions at various stages:

Active Actions (2,524)

This category includes pre-rule actions, proposed and final rules anticipated or prioritized for the near future.

Completed Actions (431)

These are actions that have been completed during the previous six months.

Long-term Actions (644)

This category includes anticipated longer-term rulemakings beyond 12 months.

Agencies and Departments

A few executive departments play a significant role in the rulemaking process. In the Fall 2023 edition, the Departments of the Treasury, Interior, Transportation, Commerce, and Health and Human Services are the most active. These top five departments account for 41 percent of the 3,599 rules in the pipeline. The Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Communications Commission also have a substantial number of rules.

Changes in “Significant” Categories

Prior to President Biden’s executive order, the Unified Agenda classified rules as “economically significant” if they had at least $100 million in annual economic effects. However, the threshold has now been raised to $200 million, resulting in a shift in the classification.

Section 3(f)(1) Significant

The Fall 2023 edition introduces a new category called “Section 3(f)(1) Significant,” which includes rules with significant impacts but not meeting the higher economic threshold. There are 303 rules in this category, compared to 332 economically significant rules in the previous edition.

Other Significant Rules

Aside from the economically significant and Section 3(f)(1) rules, there are over 1,000 additional rules classified as “other significant” in the Fall 2023 edition. These rules may also have important implications and should be subject to additional analysis and scrutiny.

Policy Implications

The Fall 2023 Unified Agenda has policy implications, especially considering that 2024 is an election year. The administration may prioritize completing its regulatory priorities in the next few months to avoid potential challenges under the Congressional Review Act. Policymakers should closely monitor these developments to ensure transparency and accountability.

Read More of this Story at – 2023-12-07 21:45:25

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