Over the final six weeks of Trump’s presidency, the administration has no plans to wind down its efforts to remake federal policies and even the government bureaucracy itself, aides said, despite the pending handoff to the incoming Democratic administration. The whirlwind of activities has bucked tradition of past presidents who have deferred on major policy actions during the lame-duck period, and in some cases, the moves could make it procedurally or politically challenging for Biden to fulfill campaign pledges to unwind the Trump team’s actions.
Administration officials are rushing to auction off drilling rights in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, slash U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan, implement new rules to limit drug prices and create a new personnel category for civil servants in policymaking roles that would strip them of most job protections. The Department of Homeland Security is racing to complete an additional 50 miles of wall barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border, and the State and Treasury departments are preparing additional economic sanctions on China and Iran.
Senate Republicans — who may lose their governing majority in January, depending on a pair of runoffs in Georgia — are moving swiftly to confirm Trump’s conservative picks to the federal courts and other nominees whose tenures will extend into the Biden presidency and beyond.
“What we have seen on immigration is that this administration has not slowed down when it comes to pushing out its agenda in the last days of Trump’s time in office,” said Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, policy counsel at the American Immigration Council who noted that the administration is also pursuing rule changes to limit asylum protections for foreigners.
“You’re not seeing the rhetoric coming from the president since the end of the election,” Reichlin-Melnick added of Trump’s once frequent immigration-related missives, “but the administration itself is moving forward and accelerating its efforts to get these midnight regulations out the door.”
If you don’t like it, choke on this! Literally.
The Trump administration on Monday rejected setting tougher standards on soot, the nation’s most widespread deadly air pollutant, saying the existing regulations remain sufficient even though some public health experts and environmental justice organizations had pleaded for stricter limits.
The Environmental Protection Agency retained the current thresholds for fine-particle pollution for another five years, despite mounting evidence linking air pollution to lethal outcomes in respiratory illnesses, including covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Documents obtained by The Washington Post show that the EPA has disregarded concerns raised by some administration officials that several of its air policy rollbacks would disproportionately affect minority and low-income communities.
In its decision announced Monday, the EPA maintained that the Obama-era levels, set in 2012, are adequately protective of human health. Agency scientists had recommended lowering the annual particulate matter standard to between 8 and 10 micrograms per cubic meter in a draft report last year, citing estimates that reducing the limit to 9 could save between 9,050 and 34,600 lives a year.
I think we already know plenty about Trump’s position on saving people from choking to death.