Donald Trump, eager to juice the staggering US economy to boost his re-election bid, signed an executive order on Tuesday that he said is designed to help businesses recover from the Covid-19 outbreak.
The president told his Cabinet members during a White House meeting the order “gives you tremendous power to cut regulation”.
The order is about “instructing federal agencies to use any and all authority to waive, suspend and eliminate unnecessary regulations that impede economic recovery,” Mr Trump said before signing it with a large black felt pen.
“And we want to leave it that way,” he added.
Mr Trump has made nixing regulations, especially ones put in place by the Obama administration, a top priority during his over three years in office.
But on Tuesday, he was unable to put his deregulation efforts into a clear historical perspective.
"I mean in the three and a half years that we've been here, we've cut far more regulations by a factor of a lot than any other administration, any other presidency," he contended.
Russell Vought, acting White House budget director, took to Twitter to boast about the administration's record cutting red tape.
"We've taken hundreds of temporary deregulatory actions during our COVID response – and we're going to continue," he tweeted. "This E.O. will ask agencies to make permanent any deregulation possible & look for more ways to deregulate to get the economy going."
The president is under pressure from conservative groups to cut regulations even further as he cranks up his re-election effort. Right-leaning organisations and legislators say cutting the federal rules will help jump start an economy that has been slowed by the coronavirus outbreak. To do so, he is giving his Cabinet officials broad authorities to review each and every federal guideline and rule under their respective purviews – and propose which ones the White House ultimately will sign off on cutting.
"I'm directing agencies to review the hundreds of regulations we've already suspended in response to the virus and make these suspensions permanent where possible. I'm also instructing agencies to use the emergency authorities to speed up regulation cuts or new rules that will create jobs and prosperity and get rid of unnecessary rules and regulations," Mr Trump said on Tuesday.
The president signed the order after spending part of the afternoon on Capitol Hill pressing GOP senators to be more aggressive pushing his "Obamagate" theory that former Obama administration officials – including Barack Obama and Joe Biden, his presumptive 2020 general election foe – orchestrated what he describes as an illegal campaign to take down his 2016 campaign then hobble his presidency.
But such pressure cuts both ways in Washington. Republican senators called for Mr Trump to slash even more regulations.
Texas GOP Senator Ted Cruz, a former 2016 GOP primary foe of Mr Trump, called Tuesday's order a "critical step ... to get our economy moving again."
"Every regulation that was waived during this crisis should remain waived [and] we should begin repealing the most costly of the major regulations that have accumulated over the past decade," Mr Cruz said.
But some groups, like the Wolf Conservation Centre, have been critical of Mr Trump's deregulation push – and the bevy of lawsuits aimed at keeping the rules in place.
"Last year, the Trump administration published regulations weakening more than 45 yrs of protection," the group tweeted on Tuesday. "The pandemic is hampering implementation of the these rules, but also the lawsuits challenging them."
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