NTTC favors Jeffrey Rosen as DOT deputy secretary

March 15, 2017

On March 7, President Trump officially nominated Jeffrey A Rosen to be the next Deputy Secretary of Transportation. The Deputy Secretary is second only to the Secretary herself and acts as a chief operating officer for the Department of Transportation (DOT). 

As the main official in charge of DOT initiatives, Rosen would exercise considerable influence over the regulation of all modes of transportation, including the trucking industry. National Tank truck Carriers staff believe that Rosen is supremely qualified for the position and is unlikely to favor new regulatory burdens over the tank trucking industry, according to Boyd Stephenson, NTTC senior vice-president of government affairs.

Rosen’s history as an advocate for more rigorous regulatory cost accounting coupled with Secretary Chao’s Labor Department record as a business-friendly conservative suggest that any DOT rules issued during the Trump Administration will be subjected to intense scrutiny. This scrutiny suggests that non-cost effective rules are unlikely to be promulgated. 

Additionally, Rosen’s history as an advocate of regulatory cost budget “caps” and open admiration for the “one in, one out” regulatory budget rules recently adopted by the Trump Administration mean that DOT is likely to reexamine existing rules with an eye to repealing them, or at least making them more efficient.

Rosen is a lawyer by training; he graduated from Harvard Law in 1982. He then joined the Kirkland & Ellis LLP law firm, his only private sector employment. His legal practice focused on business litigation until 2003, when President George W Bush nominated him to serve as the DOT’s general counsel. During that time, Democrat Norman Mineta was the DOT Secretary, demonstrating Rosen’s ability to work across the aisle. He served at DOT until 2006, when he was transferred to the Office of Management & Budget to serve as its General Counsel.  According to Rosen’s biography, at OMB, he was the Bush Administration’s “lead lawyer for regulatory and fiscal issues, as well as for executive orders.”

In 2006, President Bush nominated Rosen to serve as a federal district court judge in the District of Washington DC, but the Senate never acted on the nomination. In 2009, Rosen returned to Kirkland & Ellis, taking the reins of the firm’s Washington DC office as co-lead. His practice shifted from business litigation to administrative law matters: suits against regulatory agencies, federal advocacy, and regulatory reform efforts.

Rosen is one of the principal legal scholars behind proposals to adopt an annual maximum regulatory cost budget for each agency—first via executive order and then via legislation. He has also analyzed “one in, one out” regulatory systems in the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia and argued that America should adopt a similar practice. These are similar to the recent “one in, two out” regulatory cost accounting system President Trump’s recent executive order.

Rosen has also publicly advocated for the REINS Act, which would require Congress to formally adopt a regulation costing more than $100 million before it could take effect. Finally, he has argued that agencies’ methods of developing cost and benefits of proposed rules systemically undercount costs on businesses and overestimate expected benefits to society.

Rosen is likely already working at DOT as part of the Trump Administration’s transition team. His nomination has been received in the Senate. It will be voted on first by the Senate Commerce Committee and then by the full Senate.