According to the New York Times, President George Bush's administration is racing to push through some new regulations affecting labor, environmental and health law. Strenuously opposed by the President-elect, Barack Obama, all these changes would become a part of the Code of Federal Regulations, which is difficult for the future presidents to revise.
Obama and his advisers have already indicated their circumspection of frantic efforts by the Bush administration to embed its policies into the Code of Federal Regulations, a collection of rules having the force of law. The advisers have also said that Obama plans to look at a number of executive orders issued by Bush.
The Supreme Court says that a new president can unilaterally reverse executive orders issued by his predecessors, but it is much more difficult for him to revoke or alter final regulations already put in place. A new administration must solicit public comment and supply "a reasoned analysis" for such changes, as if it were issuing a new rule.
One of the most controversial rules would make it extremely difficult for the government to regulate toxic substances and hazardous chemicals to which workers are exposed in the workplace. As a senator and a presidential candidate, Obama has sharply criticized the regulation of workplace hazards by the Bush administration.
The proposal, which is strongly supported by business groups, would add a step to the lengthy process of developing standards to protect workers' health.
While supporters say the rule would ensure that officials are compiling accurate statistics before taking any action, public health officials and labor unions opine it would delay needed protections for workers, resulting in additional deaths and illnesses.