The White House on Monday sidestepped questions about whether controversial regulations were deliberately delayed in the run-up to the 2012 election.
Asked directly whether political calculations ever entered into the rule-making process, White House press secretary Jay Carney noted that a number of “contentious” rules were enacted last year, including regulations dealing with ObamaCare.
"[The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs] runs this process. They run a rigorous process. And I can point you to a number of highly — you know, high-profile, highly economically significant and contentious rules that were put out and acted on in 2012 and late 2011," Carney said.
"Their approach to regulatory review is consistent with long-standing precedent across previous administrations of both parties, and fully adheres to the established principles guiding regulatory policy," Carney said.
Citing anonymous officials, The Washington Post reported Sunday that the administration deliberately held back regulations that could have harmed President Obama’s reelection campaign. The story also cited a report by the Administrative Conference of the United States that found federal rules took an average of 79 days to fully assess in 2012 — up from 50 days between 1994 and 2011.
“Several of the senior agency employees indicated that OIRA reviews took longer in 2011 and 2012 because of concerns about the agencies issuing costly or controversial rules prior to the November 2012 election,” the report said.
“The employees said their agencies were instructed that such rules were not to be issued unless deemed absolutely necessary — e.g., a judicial deadline — or if it could be shown they were not controversial — e.g., clear net benefits.
Carney defended the delays as necessary to properly evaluate proposed regulations.
"When it comes to complex rules with significant potential impact, we take the time needed to get them right," Carney said. "The administration is committed to a regulatory strategy that maintains a balance between protecting the health, welfare and safety of Americans and promoting economic growth, job creation, competitiveness and innovation."