Midnight Regulations

The final months of an outgoing presidential administration typically generate a significant amount of regulatory activity. This increased regulatory activity during the “midnight” period has been documented as early as the Carter administration’s transition to Reagan, and has accompanied every presidential transition since, regardless of political party. The midnight period is typically defined as the period between the presidential election in November and Inauguration Day on January 20th of the following year.

Charts of Rulemaking Activity

Chart depicting the number of economically significant final rules published by presidental administrations.


Our Reg Stats page contains helpful charts for assessing aggregate regulatory policy over time and across administrations. The concept of "midnight regulations" appears evident in charts that show sharp contrasts in the final year of the H.W. Bush, Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations.

This chart shows the cumulative economically significant final rules published by presidential administrations.