WASHINGTON – Governmental Affairs Committee Ranking Democrat Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., made clear Monday in a letter to Office of Management and Budget Director Mitchell Daniels that the Senator intends to closely monitor the new administration?s actions that could delay, block or even reverse already-approved health, safety and environmental protections. Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Government Reform, joined Lieberman in expressing his concerns. Following is a copy of the letter, sent to Daniels on Monday, February 5, 2001:
Joseph I. Lieberman Henry A. Waxman
Ranking Member Ranking Member
Committee on Governmental Affairs Committee on Government Reform
United States Senate U.S. House of Representatives
February 5, 2001
Honorable Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr.
Director, Office of Management and Budget
Washington, D.C. 20503
Dear Mr. Daniels:
We are writing to express our concerns and to seek additional information about the Administration?s recent memorandum that could block, delay and potentially reverse a series of recent federal governmental decisions protecting the public?s health and safety and the environment.
On January 20, 2001, President Bush?s Chief of Staff, Andrew H. Card, Jr., issued a memorandum directing all agencies to halt publication of regulatory actions and to delay the effective dates of already-published regulations, with certain limited exceptions for urgent rules and legal deadlines. Although we understand the desire of the incoming Administration to review new and pending regulations, we are concerned that the Card memorandum could be used to undermine long-needed safeguards.
Many of the public protections finalized in recent months were the culmination of years of study, public comment, and scrutiny by both government and private parties. For example, the Card memorandum could affect measures to protect the public against breathing air contaminated by diesel fumes, drinking polluted water, and eating contaminated food. Also potentially caught up in the net of this memorandum are measures to protect wilderness areas, to implement energy-conservation measures, to protect mine workers against toxic underground pollution, and to support the public?s right-to-know about toxic lead releases in their communities. We would be very troubled if the years of effort by both government and private parties to devise solutions to these and other substantial risks to the public?s health and the environment were seriously delayed or reversed.
In our capacity as Ranking Members on the Senate Governmental Affairs and House Government Reform Committees, we intend to closely monitor the implementation of the Card memorandum, particularly where it applies to measures to protect health and safety, consumers, and the environment. The Card memorandum designated you to implement its instructions, and we therefore ask your assistance in obtaining the information necessary for our oversight. Specifically, please provide us ?
(1) A description of each proposed or final regulation to protect health, safety, consumers, or the environment ? (a) that had been cleared for publication by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) before January 20, 2001, but that has not yet been transmitted to the Office of the Federal Register (OFR), (b) that had been transmitted to the OFR before January 20, 2001, but was withdrawn from publication after noon on January 20, 2001, or (c) that has an effective date postponed pursuant to the Card memorandum.
(2) Any written or oral instructions or guidance you have provided to agencies with respect to interpretation or implementation of the Card memorandum. Please include an explanation of how compliance with the Administrative Procedure Act will be assured and how transparency and accountability will be maintained in implementation of the Card memorandum.
(3)(a) A description of (i) each request for exception or exclusion presented to you under the Card memorandum, your decision whether to grant or deny the request, and the reason for the grant or denial, and (ii) each regulation excluded by the agency from the Card memorandum because the regulation is promulgated pursuant to statutory or judicial deadline; and (b) a copy of any written comments or other contacts, and a description of any oral comments or other contacts, by persons outside of the executive branch regarding particular regulations. We believe such disclosure is covered under the general principles of transparency and accountability established in Executive Order 12866.
(4) We are not by this letter requesting copies of regulatory documents, but we ask that you commit to providing us, upon our request, copies of the complete Federal Register notice and regulatory impact assessment for any of the regulations referred to in items (1), (2), and (3).
We intend to monitor closely as the Administration continues to implement the Card memorandum, and, to that end, please update your response to this letter as additional regulations are affected or as other information responsive to our request becomes available. Finally, to foster transparency and accountability in the implementation of the Card memorandum, we ask that you establish a procedure for making the information referred to in items (1), (2), (3), and (4) routinely available to the public.
Thank you very much for your assistance. We look forward to hearing from you and receiving the requested information at your earliest opportunity.
Joseph I. Lieberman Henry A. Waxman