Regulating in the Dark: Examining Bush Midnight Regulations

Editor’s Note:  A pdf of the complete Working Paper “Regulating in the Dark: Examining Bush Midnight Regulations” is attached here.

From: Mercatus Center/George Mason University

by Sherzod Abdukadirov

Conventional wisdom holds that presidents’ powers quickly evaporate the moment they are voted out of office.[1] Members of Congress and even career executives within federal agencies have little reason to heed a lame-duck president’s advice or fear retaliation. Consequently, a lame-duck president’s ability to push legislation through Congress or enact political priorities greatly diminishes. This view, however, underestimates the arsenal of political tools at the president’s disposal. In the absence of congressional cooperation, outgoing administrations turn to executive orders, memoranda, and regulations to pursue their political priorities. Research indicates that they make extensive use of their arsenal to promote a favored political agenda.