Washington, July 11, 2017: The US Senate has voted to confirm Indian American lawyer Neomi Rao as the head of Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
The 44-year-old Rao was confirmed by a vote of 54-41 on Monday and she would lead the White House office overseeing regulation, according to Senate’s official website.
“In selecting Professor Neomi Rao… the President has made an inspired choice. Since first working on my staff many years ago, Director Rao has proven herself to be a sharp and principled public servant,” said Senator Orrin Hatch, senior member and former Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“She possesses a keen sense for our duty in Washington to help small businesses grow and make lives of Americans easier,” he said.
Senator John Hoeven also appreciated Rao for her commitment to work and said that he secured a commitment from her to address benefit and cost analysis for Army corps projects and to ensure fair treatment of public-private partnerships, the American Bazaar online reported.
Rao serves as an associate professor of law and the founding director of the Center for the Study of the Administrative State at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School.
She graduated from Yale University and later attended University of Chicago Law School. Rao clerked for US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III of the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
She is also a member of the Administrative Conference of the US and the governing council of the American Bar Association’s Section of Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice. (IANS)
The Trump administration is considering more dramatic cuts to the U.S. refugee program, with one official suggesting the White House not allow any refugees into the country in the coming fiscal year.
In a Politico report released Thursday, government officials from several federal agencies attended a meeting last week and discussed several options that included a ceiling of 10,000 — well below the current refugee ceiling of 30,000, which is already an all-time low for the program.
The U.S. resettled 23,190 refugees since the beginning of fiscal 2019 last October. With 2½ months remaining until the count resets, the U.S. is on track to fall short of this year’s cap, according to U.S. State Department data.
Since the so-called “refugee ceiling” is an upper limit, and not a quota, the government is not required to meet the annual admissions number.
Scott Arbeiter, president of World Relief, one of the primary refugee resettlement nongovernmental organizations in the U.S., said he has heard multiple figures proposed for the coming fiscal year, all well below the program’s historical annual threshold of around 60,000 to 70,000.
In President Barack Obama’s last year two years in office, his administration made a concerted effort to increase the number of admitted refugees, with a particular focus on Syrians fleeing conflict and persecution.
And since the U.S. president is the one who ultimately makes the final decision when it comes to the number of refugee admissions, President Donald Trump has leeway to further reduce the total allowed.
“The president hasn’t made an actual decision, that won’t happen till October. But I suspect they’re testing the waters a bit to see if, in fact, the public will respond to this, and if there will be any public outrage,” Arbeiter told VOA. “So it is a proposed number, it is not a final number, but a number anywhere between zero, and we’ve heard 3,000, 7,000 10,000, but anywhere in that range, what it effectively does is it closes the door on refugees, and effectively constitutes a total ban on refugees.”
Earlier ban attempts
Trump repeatedly attempted a ban on refugees with multiple executive orders on travel during his first year in office, citing “national security” concerns. Those worries, however, were not substantiated by data and no scientific study demonstrates a correlation between refugee admissions and elevated crime or security risks.
Each year, the president makes an annual determination, after appropriate consultation with Congress, regarding the refugee admissions ceiling for the following fiscal year. That determination is expected to be made before the start of fiscal 2020 on Oct. 1, 2019.
The U.S. State Department is one of the leading agencies involved in the deliberation process with the White House over refugee admissions. In an emailed statement Friday, a spokesperson reiterated the president makes the decision on the ceiling every year “after appropriate consultation with Congress.”
Beyond that, however, the spokesperson said the State Department would “not discuss internal and interagency deliberations or communications involved in such deliberations.” Last year, however, the White House was criticized by members of Congress after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the fiscal 2019 cap would be 30,000, before the legally required meetings with Capitol Hill lawmakers happened. (VOA)