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With Seven-Day Extension, Obama Midnight is Dark and Full of Regulatory Terrors

The "drop dead date" for federal regulations is fast approaching and we are expecting more overreaching proposals. This is the last date that proposed rules can be finalized by the Obama administration, without fear that the next President will overturn them under the Congressional Review Act. Regulatory agencies are expected to release a flood of regulations before this date. This regulatory outburst, first noted in the final days of the Carter Administration, is known as "midnight regulations."

The exact date was estimated to be May 17. However, due to seven extra days that the House met, an addition to the original House schedule, some say that the date may be as late as May 23. The unofficial cutoff occurs when there are 60 days remaining in the legislative calendar. Lawmakers, under the Congressional Review Act, has 60 legislative days to rescind a rule.

Historically, it is common to see a flood of "midnight regulations" prior to a change in administrations. Given the larger, recent trends of over-regulation, combined with this election's political instability, agencies are certain to make a huge push in ushering in new rules. Substantial evidence indicates that these new rules are sure to be an unnecessary, poorly thought-out overreach of regulatory authority.

The large-scale consequences of midnight regulations are immediate and far-reaching: the outburst of new regulations overwhelms our system of checks and balances, resulting in negative externalities affecting the daily lives of average American citizens. Studies show that midnight regulations to waste more money and involve a much lower level of analysis than earlier proposals.

Remember, this is in comparison to the typical regulatory waste of the Obama Administration, perhaps best described as an infinitely layered 80,260 page1 mess of red tape, bought at a bargain price of $1.86 trillion2, often resulting from exceptionally poor research, exceptionally large political motives, no cost-benefit analysis, and a stated purpose that is as convoluted as this definition.

For an overview of how the rulemaking process works, check out the FreedomWorks reference sheet, "What is a Regulation?: A Guide to the Rulemaking Process."3


  1. The number of pages in the 2015 Federal Registry, according to the Competitive Enterprise Institute's "Ten Thousand Commandments 2016" Fact Sheet (https://cei.org/sites/default/files/10KC%202016%20fact%20sheet%20FINAL.pdf) 

  2. The Federal Regulatory Cost in 2015, also according to the Competitive Enterprise Institute (https://cei.org/10KC2016). 

  3. WhatIsARegulation