Off the media radar, the Trump administration continues serious work on deregulation, with professionals even Democrats praise

Today the Senate confirmed Neomi Rao as administrator of the Office for Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), which is charged with vetting the federal government’s regulatory activities for cost-benefit sanity and recognizable legislative intent. Rao, founder of the Center for the Study of the Administrative State at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School, has a long track record of criticizing the accrual of power and latitude at the executive branch’s regulatory agencies (see Christian Britschgi’s detailed report from earlier this month). The vote was 59-36.

Six Democrats joined the entire Republican caucus and independent Angus King of Maine in voting yes. Key moderate Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) likely sealed the deal with her enthusiastic endorsement Monday: “I look forward to finding opportunities to join with the Trump Administration to reduce the regulatory burden on Missouri small businesses,” McCaskill said in a statement. “I’m hopeful about working with Ms. Rao to eliminate unnecessary regulations while protecting Missourians’ health and safety.” Rao had sailed through the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee last week by a vote of 11-4, including affirmatives from Democrats McCaskill, Tom Carper (Del.) and Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.). Heitkamp had said during Rao’s confirmation hearings, “we are very excited about the expertise you bring.” Only staunch regulatory activists seemed to sound the alarm against Rao, and they didn’t have much notable influence.

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