Chemical "Harmonization" Through Trade Agreement Could Trigger a Global Food Catastrophe

As we reported in yesterday's edition of Government Matters, diplomats from Europe and the United States have started talks on the corporate-backed trade treaty known as the Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA). Though draft texts of the agreement are being kept secret from Americans and Europeans, the 2013 Technical Barriers to Trade report by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative indicates that the "harmonization" of chemical regulations to a lowest-common-denominator standard is likely to be a goal of the treaty.

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Shelanski Lays Out Top Priorities if Confirmed as Next OIRA Administrator

At his Senate confirmation hearing this morning, Howard Shelanski, nominated to serve as the next administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), laid out his top priorities for the office.  Among them are addressing long-standing delays of crucial standards and safeguards and the lack of transparency in OIRA's rule review process. 

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Obama Nominates Howard Shelanski to Lead Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs

On April 25, President Obama nominated Howard Shelanski as administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). If confirmed, Shelanski would replace Cass Sunstein, who resigned from the position last August, leaving behind a record of lengthy delays.

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Industry Interests Testify in Support of Bill Targeting Public’s Right to Hold Government Accountable

The House Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law, held a hearing Wednesday on proposed legislation that would limit the rights of citizens to enforce legal deadlines and hold government agencies accountable when they fail to perform the tasks assigned to them by Congress. Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) and Sen.

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Improving Rules on Implementing the Freedom of Information Act

Up-to-date Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) rules that support transparency are important for ensuring agencies are properly implementing the law. Last week, the Center for Effective Government submitted comments to the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) on its proposed FOIA implementation regulations and encouraged the agency to expand online disclosures, improve communication with requesters, clarify fees and fee waivers, and improve the process of submitting and processing administrative appeals.

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UPDATED: Three Reasons the REINS Act Must Be Stopped (Again)

If passed, the REINS Act would require congressional approval of all major rules, potentially endangering the most important safeguards to our health, safety, environment, and economy.

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Court Says FDA Failed to Comply with Food Safety Rule Deadlines

This week, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California concluded that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) by failing to comply with specific deadlines for food safety rules, which were set out in the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). For a number of major food safety regulation areas, FDA failed to meet the dates set for completion. Although some of the rules were proposed in January, many remain under review at FDA or the White House.

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President Obama’s Budget Proposal Assumes Flawed Poultry Inspection Rule Will Be Finalized

Yesterday, the president released the proposed budget for funding the federal government in Fiscal Year (FY) 2014. The budget for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) assumes savings from finalizing a controversial proposed rule to change the way chickens and other poultry are inspected in processing plants.

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Sunstein’s “Simpler Government” Is Legally Suspect, Overly Secretive And Politically Unaccountable

By Lisa Heinzerling
Originally posted on Think Progress

In his new book, “Simpler: The Future of Government,” Harvard law professor Cass Sunstein writes about his nearly four years as President Barack Obama’s “regulatory czar.” As the Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (known as “OIRA”) within the Office of Management and Budget, Sunstein oversaw the regulatory output of the many agencies of the executive branch. Rules on worker health, environmental protection, food safety, health care, consumer protection, and more all passed through Sunstein’s inbox.

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