Regulate! Regulate! Obama will use his last year in office to use executive powers on everything from drones to e-cigs – to Republicans’ fury

Thursday, November 26, 2015
By Paul Martin

President plans an aggressive strategy of executive action before he leaves office in January 2017
New regulations would include financial reforms, food safety, corporate executives’ pay and possibly the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba
Republicans may try to block actions through Congress or the courts

By J. Taylor Rushing, U.s. Political Reporter
26 November 2015

President Barack Obama is not planning to leave the White House quietly.

The 44th president is instead preparing a wide range of executive actions and orders, including a variety of regulations, before he leaves office in January 2017.

The administrative actions are a way to circumvent the Republican-controlled Congress, which Obama has repeatedly shown a willingness to do, most notably on the issue of immigration.

New reports on Thursday point to a little-noticed set of planned regulations that the White House published last week, showing priorities that agencies are currently working on.

That document, called a Unified Agenda, establishes a set of deadlines through the end of next year for the new regulations.

Implementing the regulations is important because while items still waiting on a to-do list can be simply dropped if Obama is followed by a Republican president, a federal rule that is already in action would be more difficult to reverse.

Near the top of Obama’s list is financial regulations that were called for by the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform bill that Congress pushed through as a reaction to the 2008 economic collapse.

That includes a rule that the Securities and Exchange Commission is finalizing that would require companies to tie the pay of their top executives to the performance of the company as a whole. The so-called ‘Pay for Performance’ rule is scheduled to be released next fal.

Also waiting on the list are new rules to update food safety laws under the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act, as well as a rule by the Food and Drug Administration that would require companies importing products from overseas to verify that their foreign suppliers are complying with U.S. safety standards.

In the mix as well is the issue of the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. While Obama has not detailed any specific executive action regarding the controversial prison, he has also been careful to leave the option open.

Obama ran for the presidency in 2008 partly on a promise to close the prison, arguing that its controversy only serves as a recruiting tool for terrorists. But Congress has balked at allowing the detainees into U.S. prisons, forcing Obama to reduce the prison population by transferring prisoners to other countries.

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