Biden-Harris Administration Postponed Effective Date in the “Interests of Justice, Now Says It Anticipates Proposing Repeal of Trump’s Sunset Rule

San José, C.A.— In a court filing responding to a recent lawsuit filed by local government, associations, and non-profit organizations, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that it “anticipates issuing, in the coming months, a notice of proposed rulemaking repealing the SUNSET Rule.”  The Rule— proposed and finalized in the Trump administration’s lame-duck period — would have set a ticking time bomb on more than 18,000 crucial regulations issued by HHS and its sub-agencies.

“We filed suit to stem the regulatory chaos that would ensue if the Sunset Rule ever saw the light of day,” said Democracy Forward Senior Counsel Samara Spence. “We applaud the Biden-Harris administration for taking a serious look at the legal flaws in the Rule, and we hope to see the administration act promptly to make good on its commitment to public health protections and to a lawful, transparent regulatory process.”

Citing the groups’ lawsuit, the Biden-Harris administration previously delayed the Sunset Rule’s effective date by one year to March 22, 2022. In doing so, HHS found:

  • That the “interests of justice require a postponement in order to preserve the status quo, because, if the rule took effect while HHS was evaluating the rule in light of the claims raised in litigation, it could create significant obligations for HHS, cause confusion for the public, including Plaintiffs…”;
  • That the agency found the uncertainty caused by the rule “could have serious implications for insurance markets, hospitals, physicians, and patients, among other affected parties”;
  • That it had determined that allowing the rule to take effect would require HHS and the Food and Drug Administration “to immediately divert resources … during the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency,” significantly impacting “actions to address urgent public health matters such as ongoing COVID-19 pandemic relief efforts, outbreaks of foodborne illness, inspections, recalls, and other public health priorities”; and
  • That “based on HHS’s initial review of the Complaint, HHS believes that the Court could find merit in some of Plaintiffs’ claims,” that the automatic expiration of HHS regulations through this kind of rule raises serious legal questions, and that HHS procedures used to issue the rule “may have impeded the full and deliberate consideration of all the potential issues related to” the Rule.

The County of Santa Clara, the California Tribal Families Coalition (CTFC), the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP), the American Lung Association, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), and NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) filed a lawsuit over the Sunset Rule on March 9 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Democracy Forward is litigating the case as counsel for all Plaintiffs, alongside legal teams from the County of Santa Clara, NRDC, and CSPI.

Democracy Forward is litigating the case as counsel for all Plaintiffs, alongside legal teams from the County of Santa Clara, NRDC, and CSPI. Read the complaint in full here. Learn more about the lawsuit here.


Democracy Forward is a nonprofit legal organization that represents organizations, individuals, and municipalities in impact litigation to keep corruption out of policymaking.

The County of Santa Clara government serves a diverse, multi-cultural population of 1.9 million residents, more populous than 14 states. The County provides essential services to its residents, including public health protection, environmental stewardship, medical services through the County of Santa Clara Health System, child and adult protection services, homelessness prevention and solutions, roads, park services, libraries, emergency response to disasters, protection of minority communities and those under threat, access to a fair criminal justice system, and many other public benefits. The Office of the County Counsel serves as legal counsel to the County of Santa Clara and is responsible for all civil litigation involving the County and its officers. Through its Social Justice and Impact Litigation Section, the Office litigates high-impact cases, drafts innovative local ordinances, and develops policies and programs to advance social and economic justice. For more information, visit

Comprised of more than 40 tribes and tribal organizations from across the state, the California Tribal Families Coalition’s mission is to promote and protect the health, safety and welfare of tribal children and families, which are inherent tribal governmental functions and are at the core of tribal sovereignty and tribal governance.

The National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP) is the nation’s only professional association for pediatric-focused advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) dedicated to improving the quality of health care for infants, children, adolescents and young adults. Representing more than 8,000 health care practitioners with 18 specialty practice issues groups and 53 chapters, NAPNAP has been advocating for children’s health since 1973 and was the first APRN society in the U.S. Our mission is to empower pediatric-focused advanced practice registered nurses and key partners to optimize child and family health.

The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease through education, advocacy and research. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to champion clean air for all; to improve the quality of life for those with lung disease and their families; and to create a tobacco-free future. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the coveted 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and a Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit:

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is America’s Food and Health Watchdog, a non-profit consumer education and advocacy organization that has worked since 1971 to improve the public’s health through better nutrition and safer food. CSPI does not accept government or corporate donations and is supported by donations from individuals and foundations and subscribers to its Nutrition Action Healthletter. For more information, visit us at

NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world’s natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

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Democracy Forward
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