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 WarrenWarren calls on big banks to follow Capital One in ditching overdraft fees Crypto firm top executives to testify before Congress Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker won't seek reelection 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 & Environment — Presented by ExxonMobil — Dems seek to preserve climate provisions Democrats wrangle to keep climate priorities in spending bill Five ways Senate could change Biden's spending plan MORE (D-Del.); Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyBiden to have audience with pope, attend G20 summit Biden taps former Indiana Sen. Donnelly as ambassador to Vatican Republicans may regret restricting reproductive rights MORE (D-Ind.); Angus KingAngus KingAmazon, Facebook, other large firms would pay more under proposed minimum tax, Warren's office says Senators look to defense bill to move cybersecurity measures Energy information chief blames market for high fuel prices MORE (I-Maine); Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampVirginia loss lays bare Democrats' struggle with rural voters Washington's oldest contact sport: Lobbyists scrum to dilute or kill Democrats' tax bill Progressives prepare to launch counterattack in tax fight MORE (D-N.D.); Joe ManchinJoe ManchinIRS data proves Trump tax cuts benefited middle, working-class Americans most Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by ExxonMobil — Dems press drillers over methane leaks Overnight Health Care — Presented by March of Dimes — Abortion access for 65M women at stake MORE (D-W. Va.); and Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillLobbying world Ex-Rep. Akin dies at 74 Republicans may regret restricting reproductive rights MORE (D-Mo.).
Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonWisconsin senators ask outsiders not to exploit parade attack 'for their own political purposes' It's time to bury ZombieCare once and for all Marjorie Taylor Greene introduces bill to award Congressional Gold Medal to Rittenhouse 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.”