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 WarrenOn The Money: Trump 'ready' for tariffs on all 0B in Chinese goods | Trump digs in on Fed criticism | Lawmakers drop plans to challenge Trump ZTE deal On The Money: Trump rips Fed over rate hikes | Dems fume as consumer agency pick refuses to discuss border policy | Senate panel clears Trump IRS nominee Dems fume as Trump's consumer bureau pick refuses to discuss role in border policy 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 CarperOvernight Energy: Fewer than half of school districts test for lead | Dems slam proposed changes to Endangered Species Act | FEMA avoids climate change when discussing plan for future storms Dems slam proposed changes to Endangered Species Act Full interview: Democratic candidate Kerri Evelyn Harris discusses her Senate campaign in Delaware MORE (D-Del.); Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyPolling analyst: Same Dems who voted for Gorsuch will vote for Kavanaugh Pollster: Kavanaugh will get Dem votes Dems pressure GOP to take legal action supporting pre-existing conditions MORE (D-Ind.); Angus KingAngus Stanley KingBipartisan bill would bring needed funds to deteriorating National Park Service infrastructure Lawmakers say Trump tariffs are threatening local newspapers Senate adds members to pro-NATO group MORE (I-Maine); Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampPolling analyst: Same Dems who voted for Gorsuch will vote for Kavanaugh Dems pressure GOP to take legal action supporting pre-existing conditions Election Countdown: Senate, House Dems build cash advantage | 2020 Dems slam Trump over Putin presser | Trump has M in war chest | Republican blasts parents for donating to rival | Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders to campaign in Kansas MORE (D-N.D.); Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinPollster: Kavanaugh will get Dem votes Overnight Health Care: Trump officials explore importing prescription drugs | Key ObamaCare, drug pricing regs under review | GOP looks to blunt attacks on rising premiums | Merck to lower some drug prices Dems pressure GOP to take legal action supporting pre-existing conditions MORE (D-W. Va.); and Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillPolling analyst: Same Dems who voted for Gorsuch will vote for Kavanaugh Pollster: Kavanaugh will get Dem votes Overnight Health Care: Trump officials explore importing prescription drugs | Key ObamaCare, drug pricing regs under review | GOP looks to blunt attacks on rising premiums | Merck to lower some drug prices MORE (D-Mo.). 

Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonOn The Money: Trump 'ready' for tariffs on all 0B in Chinese goods | Trump digs in on Fed criticism | Lawmakers drop plans to challenge Trump ZTE deal Juan Williams: Putin wins as GOP spins GOP senator: Harley-Davidson is right to move some production overseas 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.”