In a tool commonly used by new administrations to delay or avoid "midnight regulations" put in place by the outgoing administration between election and Inauguration Day, on January 20, 2009, the Obama administration ordered all federal agencies and departments to stop any pending regulations until they can be reviewed by the incoming administration. The memorandum was sent to all Executive agencies and department heads by White House Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel. Pursuant to the President's instructions, Emanuel requested that the following three steps be taken depending on the status of the new regulations.
- Subject to certain exceptions for emergency situations or other urgent circumstances relating to health, safety, and environmental, financial or national security matters, as determined by the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, no proposed or final regulations should be sent to the Office of the Federal Register for publication unless it has been reviewed or approved by a department or agency head appointed by President Obama after noon on January 20, 2009.
- All proposed or final regulations that have not been published in the Federal Register be withdrawn from the Office of the Federal Register so that they can be reviewed and approved by a Obama appointees.
- For regulations that have been published in the Federal Register, but have not yet taken effect, that the agency or department head consider extending the effective date of the regulations for 60 days for the purpose of reviewing questions of law and policy provided the regulations do not affect critical health, safety, environmental, financial or nations security matters. Notice and comment periods should also be reopened for 30 days after the 60 day extension is implemented.
The administration's request that agency and department heads extend the effective date of pending regulations may impact a number of import and export-related regulations.