OVERNIGHT REGULATION: O-Care regs battered and bruised

Happy Thursday from swampland, and welcome to the latest edition of OVERNIGHT REGULATION, The Hill’s daily rundown of all the day’s top regulatory and enforcement news.

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Now, let’s talk about regs.

 

THE BIG STORY

It has been a brutal week for Affordable Care Act regulations, with the Internal Revenue Service’s authority to carry out a key function of the law in question, and the White House relenting on another front in the battle over the statute’s birth-control mandate.

But if the recent bumps don’t kill ObamaCare, they could actually make it stronger – provided things play out as the administration hopes going forward.

Here’s how:

-- The worst news this week for supporters of the law was delivered by a panel of judges on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, who ruled that the IRS may not distribute premium subsidies on exchanges established by the federal government.

As eloquently put by The Hill’s Elise Viebeck, losing the provision “would demolish ObamaCare’s structure for providing coverage and plunge the federally run exchanges into chaos.” http://j.mp/1rycrCP

But the White House signaled an appeal, and their hopes were buoyed by a separate federal court ruling upholding the IRS’s authority. Other challenges to the provision remain, and the issue may ultimately land at the Supreme Court, where the president’s law is batting .500.

-- Meanwhile, the White House said this week that it was working on a workaround of its previously proposed workaround designed to let religious nonprofits opt out of ObamaCare's contraception mandate if it violates their religious beliefs.

The regulatory action comes in response to other legal challenges, which  argued the initial workaround was not acceptable. http://j.mp/1rzMWRJ

But despite the hiccups, and the recent SCOTUS Hobby Lobby decision freeing some companies from covering birth control, the mandate will largely remain intact, at least for now.

Next up, could be a highly anticipated decision on the law’s critical regulations requiring employers to offer healthcare. The employer mandate has already seen multiple delays, and time is running out for the administration to decide whether it will take effect as scheduled in January.

 

ON TAP FOR FRIDAY

Lawmakers will head for the turnstiles, as Congress wraps up its legislative workweek, leaving just one more before the House and the Senate leave town for their five-week summer recess.

President Obama and Vice President Biden will host President Otto Perez Molina of Guatemala, President Juan Orlando Hernandez of Honduras, and President Salvador Sanchez Ceren of El Salvador at the White House for a strategy session about the growing crisis at the Southwest border.

The House Oversight Committee will take aim at the White House Office of political affairs in a hearing questioning if taxpayer funds were used to support candidates.http://j.mp/1rPPRmR

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights will give a briefing looking at the enforcement of sexual harassment policy at educational institutions by the Education Department's Office for Civil Rights and the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division.

Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and Rep. Bill Foster (D-Ill.) plan to hold a presser calling on the Defense Department to allow DREAMERs to serve in the military.

 

TOMORROW'S REGS TODAY:

The Obama administration will publish 224 new regulations, proposed rules, notices and other administrative actions in Friday's edition of the Federal Register.

Highlights include:

-The Interior Department may tighten blasting regulations at coal mine sites at the behest of environmental groups.

The Interior Department's Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement is considering new rules intended to protect mine workers and people in surrounding communities from harmful pollution by prohibiting visible nitrogen oxide emissions from blasting operations. 

WildEarth Guardians petitioned the agency to implement these rules. http://j.mp/1pfyFpZ

-The Nuclear Regulatory Commission may issue new radiation standards to protect workers at nuclear facilities. The NRC is looking to align the agency's rules with international standards. http://j.mp/WLWZWV

-The Federal Aviation Administration will delay new rules for recreational drones, such as model airplanes. The FAA announced new rules last month that would prohibit people from flying model airplanes within five miles of an airport, more than 400 feet above ground, or over populated areas. But the agency now says it is extending the comment period through Sept. 23 to give the public more time to discuss the rule. http://j.mp/1jXZS10

-The Department of Energy may issue new energy efficiency standards for manufactured homes to help homeowners save money on their electricity bills. The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy will hold two meetings next month to consider the proposed rule. http://j.mp/1nxTE7f

-The Department of Agriculture may issue new barley standards, which could have an impact on brewers. According to the USDA, more than 60 percent of the barley grown in the country is used to produce beer and other alcoholic beverages. http://j.mp/UvV7j4

 

NEWS RIGHT NOW:

PUNTING ON REGS? The Obama administration plans to issue tens of billions of dollars worth of regulations following November's midterm elections, according to a new report. http://j.mp/1sZpSMk

GUN RIGHTS: Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) is upset about the administration's controversial ivory ban, which aims to stop elephant poaching in Africa. But the rule could have the unintended consequence of restricting the trade of antique guns that contain small amounts of ivory, he says. http://j.mp/1lAVG2A

K ST. is deep into the climate change fight. The Environmental Protection Agency's controversial coal plant regulation that would cut carbon pollution and existing power plants has prompted more than 120 groups to lobby Congress on the issue, according to Bloomberg BNA. http://j.mp/1rPLF6C

HOLDER VS. ISSA: Republicans on the House Oversight Committee are investigating the Justice Department's settlements with two of the country's biggest banks over mortgage fraud accusations. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is demanding Attorney General Eric Holder turn over documents related to the DOJ's settlements with JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup. http://j.mp/1tHi1AQ

FAILED MORTGAGES: Morgan Stanley will pay $275 million to settle claims by the Securities and Exchange Commission that the bank mislead investors about the qualities of the residential mortgage-backed securities it sold before the housing collapse. http://j.mp/1jY5f0h

DRUGS: Meanwhile, Bank of America will pay $16.6 million to settle claims by the Treasury Department that it processed payments for drug traffickers, which is illegal. http://j.mp/Ur3YDc

WORKPLACE SAFETY: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration will issue new safety requirements to protect communication tower workers from falling to their deaths. OSHA says the number of workplace deaths in this industry is increasing at an "alarming" rate, including nine fatalities already this year.http://j.mp/Ur2uJ0

OIL TRAINS: Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx took to the airwaves to defend his agency's proposed regulations for trains that carry oil shipments. http://j.mp/1qD5OQd

CHINESE INFLUENCE? A GOP lawmaker is accusing the business-friendly U.S. Chamber of Commerce of being 'in the pocket' of communist China and companies that are seeking cheap labor. http://j.mp/1pfBzLp

 

BY THE NUMBERS:

15: The number of major rules identified in the AAF report that would take effect in the three months following the midterms, according to the White House’s regulatory agenda.

$34 billion: Potential price tag of those rules for which costs have been estimated, according to the report.

9: Number of the 15 rules, for which costs have not been estimated.

$90 billion: Projected cost of just one of those – a proposed rule for ground level ozone standards, AAF contends.

 

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

"For those of us who are concerned that this administration is trying to take away our guns, this regulation could actually do that," – Sen. Lamar Alexander on the Fish and Wildlife Service’s ivory regulation.

 

We’ll endeavor to stay on top of these and other stories throughout the week, so check The Hill’s Regulation page early and often for the latest. And send any comments, complaints or regulatory news tips our way, via bgoad@thehill.com or tdevaney@thehill.com. And follow us at @ben_goad and @timdevaney.