On January 20, 2021, Ronald Klain, President Joseph Biden’s Chief of Staff, issued a memorandum to the current heads of all executive branch departments and agencies placing a freeze on the implementation of any new federal regulations, a typical move at the start of a new president’s term. This hold on further action will allow a Biden-appointed/designated department or agency head to review and approve any new rules. Accordingly:

  • For rules that former President Donald Trump’s administration proposed but have not yet been published in the Federal Register, departments and agencies have been instructed to immediately withdraw them from the Office of the Federal Register (OFR) for review and approval, unless there is an emergency situation or other urgent circumstances requiring implementation.
  • For rules that have been published in the Federal Register or rules that have been issued in any manner but have not taken effect, the departments and agencies have been requested to postpone the rules’ effective dates for 60 days from January 20, 2021, to allow for the review of any questions of fact, law, and policy the rules may raise. For rules postponed in this manner, the memo suggests that, as appropriate, a 30-day comment period be opened to allow interested parties to provide comments and any petitions for reconsideration involving such rules.

This freeze will place a hold on many regulatory actions proposed in the final month of President Trump’s term. For example, the State Department’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) has withdrawn its rulemaking to consider making permanent the temporary exception to allow for continued telework operations (see Update of December 10, 2020) and the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) has paused implementation of its interim final rule expanding certain controls on the activities of U.S. persons (see Update of January 20, 2021). While not confirmed, it is believed that the Department of Commerce’s final rule adopting the Aluminum Import Monitoring and Analysis (AIM) system scheduled to be effective January 25, 2021, has been delayed also.

Thompson Hine international trade attorneys and professionals will continue to monitor and report on any other significant delays or withdrawals of pending regulatory actions.