May 29, 2020
How Much Authority Does the Trump Administration Have Over Independent Agencies?
President Trump’s executive order (EO) on regulating social media platforms highlights a debate over how much authority a president can exert over independent agencies. The details of this EO indicate the administration recognizes limits on its ability to control independent agencies, argues AAF’s Director of Regulatory Policy Dan Bosch.
An interesting subplot of President Trump’s EO on social media is that it reveals how the administration views its legal ability to compel certain actions from independent agencies. On relatively non-invasive actions, such as issuing a report, the EO directs the action specifically. On more invasive issues such as enforcement, promulgation of rules, and budgetary control, the administration bows to independence. While the likely reasoning is to give the EO a stronger chance to survive a legal challenge, it does indicate that the administration may recognize legal limits on its ability to control independent agencies. By including soft direction in the EO, the administration is hoping to influence action without being seen as compelling it.