By Sharon Block, Acting Administrator, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs
President Biden is committed to using every lever at his disposal to deliver results for the American people. And during his first months in office, that’s exactly what he has done.
Under the President’s leadership, we’re turning the tide on the pandemic. Daily new COVID-19 cases have fallen by more than 90 percent since January. We’re getting more and more Americans vaccinated. Our economy is growing and creating jobs. And kids are getting back to their classrooms.
But there is still hard work ahead to build back better and more equitably. Today we’re releasing the Administration’s first regulatory agenda, which outlines how we plan to get some of that work done. The agenda includes regulatory protections to help build an economy that makes it easier for families to break into the middle class and stay in the middle class; to dismantle persistent and systemic inequities; and to adopt a clean energy future for a healthier, safer, and more just tomorrow.
Specifically, Federal agencies plan to take action this year and beyond to:
- Protect Health and Safety. To help ensure every American has access to clean air and clean water, Federal agencies plan to take steps in the coming months to address air pollution from a range of sources and reduce lead and man-made chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) substances in our drinking water, which may cause harmful health effects if consumed at too high levels. The Department of Transportation also plans rulemaking to enhance pipeline safety, including through new requirements to detect and repair leaks.
- Support a Robust Economic Recovery that Strengthens the Middle Class. To help America’s hard-hit small businesses recover, the Small Business Administration plans to advance regulations that ease the requirements to refinance debt and expand other loan programs. The Department of Labor is also working to increase wages, including through raising Federal contractor minimum wages, strengthening prevailing wage, and addressing economic security of tipped workers. Similarly, the Department of Education expects to ease the process of accessing loan relief and hold poor-performing programs accountable for providing a return on investment to their students. Together, these and other actions will continue our work to rebuild a middle class that brings everybody along.
- Advance Equity. Consistent with the President’s historic commitment to a whole-of-government effort to advance equity and racial justice, addressing persistent inequities is central to the regulatory agenda. For instance, the Department of Health and Human Services intends to publish regulations strengthening protections against discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability under any health program. The Department of Housing and Urban Development will also issue regulations to help secure equal access to housing opportunity for all.
- Confront the Climate Crisis. President Biden has made clear he will confront the climate crisis head on. Building on progress made to position the United States as a clean energy leader, Federal agencies plan to work together to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, strengthen fuel economy standards, and thoughtfully manage natural resources development on public lands and waters. Recognizing the disproportionate harm climate change poses to communities of color and low-income communities, Federal agencies will also prioritize environmental justice as part of this work.
- Build a Fair, Orderly, and Humane Immigration System. To continue the work of building out of the chaos and cruelty of the prior Administration, the Department of Homeland Security will preserve and fortify the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy and, together with the Department of Justice and Department of State, reform our immigration system so that it is more effective, efficient, and better aligned with our Nation’s values. Among other things, the Department of Homeland Security will eliminate unjustified barriers and burdens that harm U.S. citizens, noncitizens, and U.S. businesses alike.
At the same time, the Unified Regulatory Agenda continues rolling back the obstacles to recovery, equity, and sustainability that the prior Administration put in place, such as making it significantly harder for families to challenge discriminatory housing practices and emboldening corporate polluters as they continued to harm people and communities.
The last four years offered a clear lesson on what happens when the Executive Branch fails to uphold its responsibility to protect the American people. Our first regulatory agenda demonstrates our commitment to reversing this trend and using every tool available to meet the challenges of the moment and support a robust and equitable economic recovery.