Report: Obama held up new rules in 2012 election run-up

Dec. 15, 2013 at 1:26 PM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 15 (UPI) -- The White House held off on enacting a series of rules last year in order to avoid political flak around the elections, Obama administration officials said.

The rules involved healthcare, the environment and worker safety, which the White House considered controversial enough to sideline until after the president's re-election, the Washington Post said Sunday.

Administration officials and White House documents indicated the implementation of the rules was delayed for purely political reasons, the Post said. "As we entered the run-up to the election, the word went out the White House was not anxious to review new rules," one former official told the Post.

The newspaper said the rules dealt with potentially touchy issues such as mercury and coal-ash produced by power plants and cleaner gasoline. There were also technical changes involved in the hot-button healthcare reform agenda.

Some officials said such delays were not unusual in presidential election years; however, the Post said the extent of the delays in 2012 was unprecedented in recent years. The reported delays weren't well received by some lawmakers.

"Legal protection delayed is protection denied," said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Oversight, Federal Rights and Agency Action. "I have spoken to officials at the top rungs of the White House power structure ... and we're going to hold their feet to the fire. We are going to make sure they're held accountable in a series of hearings."

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