Agency reviewing Trump rule ‘freeze;’ hiring check imposed, too

Jan. 23, 2017 -- NCUA said today it is reviewing a memo issued by the White House Friday freezing pending regulations for 60 days, and ordering federal agencies to withdraw rules that have been proposed, but have not yet been published in the Federal Register.

White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus Friday evening sent the memo to all executive departments and agencies.

The impact on NCUA regulations is not yet clear. If the freeze does affect NCUA (an independent agency), the new rule on field of membership from the NCUA, scheduled to take effect Feb. 6, could be postponed for 60 days. Meanwhile, the “advance notice of proposed rulemaking” on alternative capital, issued by the agency just last week, would have to be withdrawn.

In a note, NCUA’s John Fairbanks stated this morning that the agency “is reviewing the language of the memorandum.”

The interim final rule on civil money penalties (out for comment to Feb. 23), since it is required by statute, would not be affected in any case.

In the memo to executive departments and agencies, Priebus stated the purpose of the freeze is to ensure that President Donald Trump’s appointees or designees "have the opportunity to review any new or pending regulations.”

Additionally, Priebus’ memo noted that President Trump has ordered that federal agencies “send no regulation to the Office of the Federal Register (the “OFR”) until a department or agency head appointed or designated by the President after noon on January 20, 2017, reviews and approves the regulation.”

The department or agency head may delegate this power of review and approval to any other person so appointed or designated by the President, consistent with applicable law, the Priebus memo added.

The memo notes that the order is subject to any exceptions the “Director or Acting Director of the Office of  Management and Budget (the “OMB Director”) allows for emergency situations or other urgent circumstances relating to health, safety, financial, or national security matters, or otherwise …”

The memo includes no specific language indicating that financial regulatory agencies are not required to abide by the order. A Brookings Institution article published last week focusing on a federal hiring freeze – which the Trump Administration imposed today --  noted that, in the past, such executive actions related to hiring freezes included some language excluding financial regulators.

In 2009, on the day of President Barack Obama’s inauguration, Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel issued a memo similar to Priebus’ calling for review of recently issued Bush administration rules.

LINKS:

Text of Trump regulation freeze order

Brooking Institution: Will Trump’s hiring freeze test financial regulators’ independence?