WHouse stops pending Bush regulations for review

WASHINGTON Tue Jan 20, 2009 7:25pm EST

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama's new administration ordered all federal agencies and departments on Tuesday to stop any pending regulations until they can be reviewed by incoming staff, halting last-minute Bush orders in their tracks.

"This afternoon, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel signed a memorandum sent to all agencies and departments to stop all pending regulations until a legal and policy review can be conducted by the Obama administration," the White House said in a statement issued just hours after Obama took office.

The review is a tool commonly used by a new administration to delay so-called "midnight regulations" put in place by a former president between the election and Inauguration Day.

Midnight regulations have been heavily used by recent former presidents, including the Democrat Bill Clinton, Republican George H. W. Bush, and most recently, the Republican George W. Bush.

Controversial late rules by the outgoing Bush administration include allowing the carrying of concealed weapons in some national parks and prohibiting medical facilities from receiving federal money for discriminating against doctors and nurses who refuse to assist with abortions or dispense contraceptives based on religious grounds.

Federal law requires a 60-day waiting period before any major regulatory changes become law, so some presidents try to publish new major regulations to ensure they go into effect before the new president's inauguration on January 20.

(Reporting by Tabassum Zakaria; Editing by Patricia Zengerle)

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