Paul Ray served as the acting head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs before receiving the nomination.
The Senate on Thursday voted 50-44 along party lines to confirm Paul Ray to be head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.
Ray was a champion of the Trump administration's deregulatory agenda as the former deputy administrator and acting administrator of OIRA until President Trump tapped him to lead the office in October. Before heading to OIRA in July 2018, Ray had limited experience with regulatory affairs, having served as a corporate attorney for Sidley Austin LLP and as a law clerk for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and for Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito.
Throughout the confirmation process, some Democrats criticized the general counsel’s office at the Office of Management and Budget for withholding documents and information from Ray’s tenure at OIRA. Meanwhile, Republicans defended the nominee and the administration’s efforts to provide information.
Speaking on the Senate floor before the vote, Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., touted the Trump administration's regulatory reforms, including an executive order that requires two regulatory rollbacks for every new rule issued. “Ray has already played a key role in this regulatory rationalization and its resulting economic success,” Johnson said.
Although he called Ray “bright” and “well-qualified,” Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., said that: “Should this body vote to confirm Mr. Ray, his general approach of non-responsiveness to the committee's vetting process sets a concerning precedent.”
Experts have expressed mixed reviews about Ray. “In public remarks [Ray] has embraced long-standing and bipartisan principles for how the government should analyze proposed regulations,” said Susan Dudley, director of The George Washington University’s Regulatory Studies Center. “[This] is encouraging and makes him a solid candidate for the position.”
Others expressed concerns about the nomination. “I think Mr. Ray’s limited experience is a concern given that OIRA will be reviewing many of the most consequential rollbacks of regulatory protections slated to be finalized over the next six months to a year,” said Amit Narang, regulatory policy advocate at the nonprofit Public Citizen. “But even more concerning is Mr. Ray’s previous work on behalf of corporate clients challenging regulations issued by the last administration and now being repealed by this administration with OIRA’s involvement.”