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The Department of Homeland Security issued a regulation today. It restricts the kinds of archaeological materials that can be imported from Egypt - not a big deal unless you're a collector or work for a museum. But it underscores a point. Lots of federal regulations take effect every day. In the waning days of a presidential administration, there's usually an uptick. And that's been the case this year. It doesn't please Republicans. But it gives hope to people who want new policies in place before a President Trump is in the White House. NPR's Brian Naylor reports.
BRIAN NAYLOR, BYLINE: They're called midnight regulations, implying they're issued in the dark of night or at the last hour of an outgoing administration. Susan Dudley, director of the Regulatory Studies Center at George Washington University, defines them more broadly.
SUSAN DUDLEY: I tend to think of true midnight regulations as those issued after the election - so during that three months between Election Day and Inauguration Day. And, historically, across administrations, regardless of party, we tend to see an uptick in regulatory activity in that window.
NAYLOR: The center says there are now some 340 significant regulations in the works that fit that description, 59 of which are deemed economically significant. That means they're expected to have an impact on the economy of $100 million or more. White House spokesman Josh Earnest pushes back against the notion that the Obama administration is working overtime to issue new regulations.
JOSH EARNEST: The regulatory work that's being done in this administration is not going to be characterized by a last-minute rush on the way out the door. I think what it will be characterized by is a continuous and persistent effort to complete the work that's already been started.
NAYLOR: David Goldston of the Natural Resources Defense Council says his group hopes some environmental regulations are among those finalized between now and Inauguration Day.
DAVID GOLDSTON: There are energy-efficiency standards for appliances. There's the ability to permanently prevent offshore drilling in the Arctic, in the Atlantic. Those are probably two of the most prominent remaining sets.
NAYLOR: Republicans in Congress, meanwhile, are telling the Obama administration not to issue any more regulations. Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin has sent that message to a number of agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Labor and the EPA.
RON JOHNSON: This administration has certainly been in overdrive in terms of issuing major regulations that have compliance costs of more than $100 million per year. And so it will be our job to really prioritize which - regulations where their costs far exceed any kind of benefit and do, you know, which ones are most harmful to our economy and make American workers less competitive.
NAYLOR: Lawmakers can overturn regulations issued in the last 60 working days of Congress under the Congressional Review Act. But such votes take up valuable time in the Senate, which also needs to act on hundreds of Trump-administration nominees and pass a budget. Brian Naylor, NPR News, Washington.
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