In the remaining days of his tenure, President Trump is rushing to enact a series of new regulations and executive orders designed to make his mark on businesses, commerce and the economy.
Past presidents in their final terms have used the time between elections and inauguration to take last-minute action to expand and seal their agendas. Clearly, some of the changes are aimed at making it, at least temporarily, more difficult for the next administration to pursue its goals.
Of course, President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. could issue new executive orders to overthrow Mr. Trumps. And Democrats in Congress, who will control the House and Senate, could use the Congressional Review Act to quickly reverse regulation as early as late August.
Here are some of the things Mr. Trump and his agents did or are trying to do prior to Mr. Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20. – Peter Eavis
Ban on Chinese apps and other products. Mr Trump signed an ordinance on Tuesday banning transactions involving eight Chinese software applications, including Alipay. It was the latest escalation in the president’s economic war with China. Details and the start of the ban will be left to Mr Biden, who may decide not to pursue the idea any further. Separately, the Trump administration has also banned the import of cotton from the Xinjiang region, where China has arrested large numbers of people belonging to ethnic minorities and forced them to work in fields and factories. In a further step, the government banned several Chinese companies, including chip maker SMIC and drone maker DJI, from buying American products. The government is weighing more restrictions on China in recent days, including adding Alibaba and Tencent to a list of companies with ties to the Chinese military, a label that would prevent Americans from investing in these companies. – Ana Swanson
Define gig workers as contractors. The Department of Labor released the final version of a rule on Wednesday that would allow millions of workers in industries such as construction, cleaning and the gig economy to be classified as contractors rather than employees. This is another step in validating the business practices of companies like Uber and Lyft. – Noam Scheiber
Reduce the legal protection of social media. The Trump administration recently filed a petition asking the Federal Communications Commission to narrow down the interpretation of a strong legal shield on social media platforms like Facebook and YouTube. If the Commission does not act before the day of inauguration, the matter ends up on the desk of whoever Mr Biden chooses to head the agency. – David McCabe
Bring the tech giants to justice. The The Federal Trade Commission filed an antitrust case against Facebook in December, two months after the Justice Department sued Google. It is up to the people appointed by Mr. Biden to decide how best to move the cases forward. – David McCabe
Added new requirements for disclosure of cryptocurrencies. The finance department proposed new reporting requirements late last month to prevent money laundering for certain cryptocurrency transactions. There were only 15 days – over the holidays – for public comment. Lawmakers and digital currency enthusiasts wrote to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in protest and won a brief extension. However, opponents of the proposed rule say the process and substance are flawed, arguing that the requirement would hinder innovation and is likely to challenge it in court. – Ephrat Livni
Limiting banks in social and environmental issues. The Office of the Currency Validator is accelerating a proposed rule that would prohibit banks from lending to certain types of companies, such as those in the fossil fuel industry, for environmental or social reasons. The regulator presented the proposal on November 20, limiting the time to accept comments to six weeks despite the holidays being interrupted. – Emily Flitter
Revision of regulations for banks and underserved communities. The Office of the Currency Auditor is also proposing new guidelines on how banks can measure their activity in order to obtain credit for meeting their obligations under the Community Reinvestment Act, an anti-redlining law that forces them to do business in poor and minority communities make. The agency rewritten some of the rules in May, but other regulators – the Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation – haven’t signed up. – Emily Flitter
Deposit of “hot money”. On December 15, the FDIC expanded the eligibility of brokered deposits for insurance coverage. These deposits are infusions of cash into a bank at a high interest rate, but they are known as “hot money” because customers can move the deposits from bank to bank for higher returns. Critics say the change could put the insurance fund at risk. FDIC officials said the new rule was necessary to “modernize” the brokered deposit system. – Emily Flitter
Restriction of the regulatory authority on airlines. The Department of Transportation approved a rule sought by airlines and travel agents in December that restricts the department’s authority over the industry by defining what is an unfair and misleading practice. Consumer groups largely rejected the rule. The airlines argued that the rule would limit regulatory overreach. And the department said the definitions they used were consistent with their previous practice. – Niraj Chokshi
Roll back a lightbulb rule. The Department of Energy has decided to block a rule requiring incandescent lamps to expire, which people and businesses are increasingly replacing with much more efficient LED and compact fluorescent lamps. Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette, a former auto industry lobbyist, said in December that the Trump administration does not want to limit consumer choice. The regulation was due to come into force on January 1st and was made mandatory by a law passed in 2007. – Ivan Penn