White House defends move to curb regulations

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House defended the president’s executive order to U.S. agencies to rescind two government regulations for every new rule introduced, after several advocacy groups filed a lawsuit on Wednesday challenging the Trump administration over the move.

Demonstrators that include mostly medical students protest a proposed repeal of the Affordable Care Act in New York, U.S., January 30, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

The National Resources Defense Council, Communications Workers of America, and Public Citizen said in their lawsuit that the Jan. 30 order would harm the public.

They said it would “block or force the repeal of regulations needed to protect health, safety, and the environment, across a broad range of topics - from automobile safety, to occupational health, to air pollution, to endangered species.”

The White House defended the order, saying that it was part of the administration’s efforts to help companies create jobs and that the groups are making assumptions about the order’s impact.

“The lawsuit presumes a lot of outcomes that are wildly inaccurate,” White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters at a daily press briefing. He added that over-regulation has hurt economic growth and that reviewing regulations should be welcomed.

The order does not apply to most of the financial reform rules introduced by the Obama administration or to rules mandated by statutes.

Republican President Donald Trump’s order is a part of his party’s larger effort to undo many of the actions of former President Barack Obama, a Democrat who left office last month after two four-year terms.

In Congress, conservative lawmakers have already moved to stamp out five Obama-era rules on corruption, the environment, labor and guns.

Companies have lauded the effort to deregulate, saying it will help boost their businesses and the larger U.S. economy. On Wednesday, Tokyo-based SoftBank Group Corp, whose chief executive has backed Trump’s efforts, said easing rules will make it easier to do business in the United States.

In addition to Trump, Wednesday’s lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia named federal departments and agencies, particularly those with jurisdiction over environmental, transportation and energy issues.

The groups argued that Trump overstepped his constitutional power and that the order “directs federal agencies to engage in unlawful actions that will harm countless Americans, including plaintiffs’ members.”

Reporting by Susan Heavey, Roberta Rampton and Joseph Ax; editing by Grant McCool and Phil Berlowitz