Recently the Trump Administration issued a memorandum placing a freeze on new or pending federal regulations to enable its review. In a Covington Alert, Covington & Burling LLP noted that a regulatory freeze upon a change in administration is not uncommon, as President Obama issued a nearly identical memorandum in 2009. The Alert then went on to explain what the freeze means and its impact on food regulation. Following is a brief overview.
The regulatory freeze applies to “new or pending regulations,” which, with some exceptions, include those ready to be sent to the Office of the Federal Register for publication, those already sent to Federal Register but not yet published, and those published in the Federal Register but not yet effective. It is, however, limited in scope, in that:
- It does not direct federal agencies to stop working on new regulations
- It does not impact comment periods for dockets that are currently open
- It does not prevent agencies from considering comments already submitted.
- It does not impact regulations that have already taken effect.
Regarding food regulation, Covington and Burling says this means that the regulatory freeze will not impact FSMA regulations issued in 2015 and 2016 or the Nutrition Facts Label final rule. It will impact any regulations that FDA or USDA plans to send to the Federal Register in the next few months (including any currently under review at the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs), and any recently published regulations that are not yet effective, unless they are subject to statutory or judicial deadlines.