Trump advances federalism with reorganization order

March 14, 2017



The Committee for Justice applauds President Trump's executive order, initiating the reorganization of the executive branch, as an important step towards restoring federalism and constitutionally limited government to our nation.


The order, signed by Trump today, directs the head of each federal agency to submit to the OMB Director a plan to reorganize their agency to improve its efficiency and accountability, including "recommendations to eliminate unnecessary agencies ... and agency programs, and to merge functions." The OMB Director will then invite and consider public comments and finally submit a plan to reorganize the executive branch to the President.


First among the five factors the executive order directs the OMB Director to consider is:


"[W]hether some or all of the functions of an agency, a component, or a program are appropriate for the Federal Government or would be better left to State or local governments or to the private sector through free enterprise."


This factor is key to federalism and constitutionally limited government - that is, the Constitution's enumeration of a limited set of activities that the federal government can engage in, as well as the underlying assumption that most of life's activities are best left to the individual or to local government. Inclusion of this federalism factor in today's order makes it clear that President Trump fully appreciates and is a champion of the principles of federalism.


Moreover, the order's larger goal of reducing the size of the federal government by eliminating or merging agency functions will serve to promote federalism by forcing federal agencies to make hard choices about their priorities. As a result, federal bureaucrats will have to focus on those functions most in need of federal involvement. Both the principles of federalism and the welfare of the America people will be advanced if, for example, the EPA is forced to focus more on protecting interstate waterways and less on telling farmers how to handle puddles on their land.


Less than two months into the Trump presidency, it is already clear that making the American government constitutional again is one of the President's top priorities. Trump's earlier executive order mandating that two federal regulations be cut for each new one created struck an important blow at the explosive growth of the regulatory state, arguably the biggest threat to constitutionally limited government.


Curt Levey | (202) 510-0128 |


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