Every election cycle politicians from both sides of the aisle demonize administrative agencies as the cause of so many of the nation’s woes. Politicians decry the proverbial red tape manufactured by Washington bureaucrats. They promise to scale back job-crushing regulations and make American companies more competitive in the world marketplace.
New administrations belch out executive orders calling for reviews, hiring freezes, reorganizations and new directions. Most of these reform attempts fail; they are nothing more than the aspirational talking points of a candidate-turned-incumbent.
Now we have President Trump making good on candidate Trump’s “2-for-1” promise, mandating that agencies repeal two regulations (expansively defined) for every new one promulgated. Through sheer weight of numbers, the White House aims to control regulatory costs by reducing the overall size of the rulebook. The FAA already is grappling with how to comply and the Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee (ARAC) is working with industry to build a comprehensive chronicle of rules ripe for repeal, modification or replacement.
Considering the FAA’s safety-focused mission, is it really practical to meet a forced promulgation/repeal ratio? There are numerous reasons a rule might be ripe for replacement or modification. It’s great to have discretion to actually consider the impact of existing rules based on their legitimate impact on certificate holders and service to aviation safety.
For certificate holders, this exercise is about more than lightening the regulatory load (ARSA and Airlines for America jointly submitted an extensive list on our members’ behalf), it’s a chance to force the FAA into some soul-searching: From now on the premise of every rule will be subject to greater scrutiny and industry will have better footing to push back on rulemaking actions. Unlike past administrations, President Trump appears to view regulatory reform as more than an empty goal. This is a chance to hold regulators accountable for imprudent or downright lazy rulemaking practices.
While calls for “reform” certainly aren’t new, this is an opportunity to make good on them.