Biden issues 60-day regulation freeze

As one of his first directives upon taking office, President Joe Biden announced a 60-day freeze on regulations to give his administration the time necessary to review any new rules. It could affect two recent rules related to mortgages.

Biden ordered that no new rules can be issued until a member of his administration is appointed to the head of the agency issuing the regulation. He also specified that all rules not already sent to the Office of the Federal Register should be immediately withdrawn for review and approval by a member of the new administration. And for rules that have already been published, Biden asked that departments consider postponing the rules’ effective dates for 60 days from Jan. 20.

After the rules are postponed, Biden mandated that, where appropriate, departments should issue a 30-day comment period to allow stakeholders to weigh in on the regulation. After reviewing the comments, departments should consider further delaying the rule or allowing for longer comment periods beyond the 60-day period, if it is deemed necessary.

After the regulations are reviewed, Biden gives two options for courses of action that should be taken:

  • For those rules that raise no substantial questions of fact, law or policy, no further action needs to be taken
  • For those rules that raise substantial questions of fact, law or policy, agencies should notify the OMB director and take further appropriate action in consultation with the OMB director

However, Biden did lay out several exclusions to the regulatory freeze. Exceptions include rules related to emergency situations or other urgent circumstances relating to health, safety, environmental, financial or national security matters. If a department believes the rule falls under these categories they were instructed to notify the OMB director.

“The OMB director will review any such notifications and determine whether such exclusion is appropriate under the circumstances,” the president stated in his memorandum.

This memorandum comes after former President Donald Trump’s administration pushed through several new rules in the last days he was in office.

In one of the Trump administration’s last acts, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development declared that the Federal Housing Administration will once again back mortgages for immigrants under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issuedfinal rule clarifying that supervisory guidance is not backed by the same force as law or regulation. It also announced that some insured depository institutions and insured credit unions will now be exempt from regulations to establish escrow accounts for some higher-priced mortgage loans.

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