President Trump recently tweeted:

New FDA Rules make it more difficult for them to speed up vaccines for approval before Election Day. Just another political hit job! @SteveFDA

Is it possible for the US President override rules issued by the FDA? After all, he's the head of the executive and in theory should have more power than any other government official.

  • The current controversy is not over FDA rules, but FDA guidelines. Oct 7, 2020 at 2:34
  • 1
    To be clear: you’re asking whether the President can force the FDA to approve a treatment that has not been shown to be safe and effective for political reasons.
    – divibisan
    Oct 7, 2020 at 2:53
  • The controversey is not about forcing approval, but about a delay in changing non-binding guidelines. Oct 7, 2020 at 3:31
  • But isn’t that the larger context of this issue? Trump explicitly said he wants a vaccine approved before Election Day and he wants the process changed to make that happen, regardless of the science
    – divibisan
    Oct 7, 2020 at 3:43

1 Answer 1


Yes, apparently, but he hasn't. Assuming you are referring to matter of newly tightened FDA guidelines impacting vaccine testing and approval the subject was really FDA "guidelines" not rules in the "rulemaking" sense.

The New York Times earlier claimed that the new FDA guidelines, which had been submitted to the White House Office of Managment and Budget (OMB) for approval, had been held up by Mark Meadows’s the president's chief of staff.

However, the following day, the OMB cleared the document, and the FDA published the guidelines. The New York Times follow-up article indicated that the administration has the authority to block the guidelines, but had only delayed them:

Trump administration officials have the authority to intervene with such nonbinding documents, partly because of a 2019 executive order that tightened restrictions over their issuance.

So it seems the president has the authority to override them, but chose instead to tweet criticism of FDA's commissioner's action to change the rules as being a political one.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .