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Biden’s Backers Push Him to Act on Promised Regulatory Fixes (1)

Nov. 17, 2021, 7:52 PMUpdated: Nov. 17, 2021, 8:35 PM

Dozens of labor, environment and other groups that backed President Joe Biden‘s election chided him Wednesday for moving too slowly to roll out regulatory changes he promised on Inauguration Day.

Sixty-three organizations, including the AFL-CIO, pressed the White House rules office in a letter to consider the needs of historically marginalized groups when deciding the size and scope of regulations. The nation’s largest union federation, along with prominent Biden supporters such as the National Organization for Women and the Natural Resources Defense Council, urged the office to quickly gather input from outsiders on how regulations benefit those groups.

The president didn’t set a deadline for the changes when he directed the office to come up with ideas back in January.

“Not only are reforms to fix such flaws long overdue, they will also enhance the quality of the administration’s regulatory decision-making,” the groups said in a letter to the White House.

The critique of Biden from labor unions is rare and demonstrates how he has so far failed to achieve his major promises to them on regulation. The White House plans to release the suggestions for regulatory reform “soon,” a spokesman said in response to the letter, adding that the administration “continues to take swift regulatory action on the president’s priorities.”

Biden also has yet to nominate a permanent leader for the regulations office, which is often considered one of the most powerful yet overlooked parts of the federal government.

It has the power to diminish, delay, or cut new rules proposed by federal agencies if they don’t align with the president’s priorities. Its workload has grown under Biden, who in June put more than 2,500 items on his regulatory to-do list.

In January, unions cheered Biden’s choice of Sharon Block, an Obama-era labor official and worker ally, as the regulations office’s interim chief.

Block’s status is in question because officials appointed on Inauguration Day to temporarily fill roles that require Senate confirmation reached the end of their tenures allowed under federal law earlier this week. It’s unclear whether the limit applies to her. No president, let alone one as determined as Biden to create change through regulation, has taken this long to nominate a permanent leader to run the rules office since the position started requiring Senate confirmation in the late 1980s.

(Updates with comment from White House in fifth paragraph )

To contact the reporter on this story: Courtney Rozen in Washington at crozen@bgov.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Bernie Kohn at bkohn@bloomberglaw.com

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