Senate confirms Trump's 'regulatory czar'

Senate confirms Trump's 'regulatory czar'
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The Senate on Monday confirmed Neomi Rao to be President Trump’s so-called "regulatory czar." 

The Senate voted 54-41, mostly along party lines, to confirm Rao’s nomination to be administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA).

Often referred to as the “most powerful government office no one’s ever heard of,” OIRA oversees the federal government's entire regulatory process. All proposed and final rules, as well as government data collections, have to be approved by the office. 

Rao will now be at the helm of Trump’s deregulation agenda.

Trump has issued executive orders to start rolling back former President Obama’s climate change agenda and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law, as well as restrictions on offshore oil and natural gas drilling. 

He’s also directed federal agencies to create a task force to help carry out his order to find two rules to eliminate for every new rule they propose.

Though Rao breezed through her confirmation hearings, the pro-regulatory group Public Citizen raised concerns about her reported ties to the conservative billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch.   

Rao is the founder of the Center for the Study of the Administrative State at George Mason University. The New York Times reported that the center is affiliated with the Antonin Scalia Law School and has been a beneficiary of a $10 million donation from the Charles Koch Foundation. 

On the Senate floor, Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenWarren: Trump is a 'racist bully' Poll: Oprah would outperform Warren, Harris against Trump in California Democrats continue to dismiss positive impacts of tax reform MORE (D-Mass.) urged her colleagues to reject Rao’s nomination. Warren argued that Republicans hand picked Rao to give big corporations more influence over the rulemaking process and bring independent agencies like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) under OIRA’s purview.

“If professor Rao had her way, independent agencies like the CFPB would be handcuffed to OIRA, the agency that she wants to run,” she said. “It is no surprise that the Wall Street giants who have been trying to take down the CFPB for years love Professors Rao’s views. If confirmed, professor Rao will be perfectly positioned to put her theories into practice. She will head the Trump administration's efforts to toss out the rules that big businesses don’t like.” 

Not one Republican voted against Rao while six senators who caucus with the Democrats backed her: Sens. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperSenate Finance Dems want more transparency on trade from Trump Overnight Energy: California regulators vote to close nuclear plant | Watchdog expands Pruitt travel probe | Washington state seeks exemption from offshore drilling plan Overnight Regulation: Fight erupts over gun export rules | WH meets advocates on prison reform | Officials move to allow Medicaid work requirements | New IRS guidance on taxes MORE (D-Del.); Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyDems search for winning playbook GOP anxious with Trump on trade Blue wave of 2018 stops in Indiana and Missouri MORE (D-Ind.); Angus KingAngus Stanley KingMcConnell to Dems: Don't hold government 'hostage' over DACA Overnight Regulation: Regulators kill Perry plan to help coal, nuke plants | Senate Dems to force net neutrality vote | Maine senators oppose offshore drilling plan | SEC halts trading in digital currency firm Maine senators oppose Trump's offshore drilling plans MORE (I-Maine); Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampPawlenty opts out of Senate run in Minnesota GOP's Cramer won't run for ND Senate seat GOP Rep. Cramer 'trending' toward ND Senate run MORE (D-N.D.); Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinMcConnell to Dems: Don't hold government 'hostage' over DACA Lawmakers see shutdown’s odds rising Senate campaign fundraising reports roll in MORE (D-W. Va.); and Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillNSA spying program overcomes key Senate hurdle Senate campaign fundraising reports roll in Dems search for winning playbook MORE (D-Mo.). 

Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonGOP senators eager for Romney to join them The House needs to help patients from being victimized by antiquated technology Comey’s original Clinton memo released, cites possible violations MORE (R-Wis.) praised his colleagues for confirming Rao as the new OIRA administrator.  

“We can all agree that federal regulations should achieve their aim without imposing unnecessary costs on the country’s economy and job creators,” Johnson, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said in a statement. 

“I look forward to working with Professor Rao to reduce the burden of regulations — by our best estimates as high as $2 trillion a year – that weigh on the American economy.”