OVERNIGHT REGULATION: Dems call for new food safety agency

Welcome to OVERNIGHT REGULATION, your daily rundown of enforcement news from Capitol Hill and beyond.

It's Wednesday night here in Washington and we're gearing up for day two of Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch’s confirmation hearing. But before we get too wrapped up in whether Lynch really is or isn’t Obama’s wingman, here’s a look at the biggest news and tomorrow's most compelling stories from the agencies and Congress.

 

The BIG STORY

By 2050, Patricia Buck said there will be more people in the world than available food.

"That is a startling statement," said the executive director of the Center for Foodborne Illness Research and Prevention on Wednesday. "And that means every morsel of food that gets produced has to be delivered as safely as possible to the consumer."

ADVERTISEMENT
It's why she’s cheering the Safe Food Act of 2015 introduced by Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinDems mull big changes after Brazile bombshell After Texas shooting, lawmakers question whether military has systemic reporting problem Bipartisan group of lawmakers aim to reform US sugar program MORE (D-Ill.) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) on Wednesday. The bill would create one new agency to enforce the nation’s food safety regulations, rather than the 15 agencies that play a role in rulemaking and enforcement now. It would be called the Food Safety Administration.

With Republicans in the majority, however, Durbin said he knows many will ask, "Why would they ever look at this?"

But he’s ready to make his case.

"Why do you want to waste money," Durbin plans to ask opposing Republicans. "Why do you want to expose Americans and their families to unsafe foods and all the health consequences?"

Having one central agency, he said would reduce costs, as other agencies tend to duplicate efforts.

Beyond saving money, Buck said one agency would also coordinate research efforts.

"It would help us strategically plan for the future to ensure the safety of the food supply," she said.

Other experts say a Food Safety Administration would lead to greater transparency and predictability for consumers.

"Our current legal and administrative structure for food regulation is tremendously fragmented," Jennifer Herbst, an associate law and medical sciences professor at Quinnipiac University School of Law, said in a statement.

"As a result, it is difficult for food growers, processors, distributors, vendors, and consumers to successfully navigate the multiple agencies."

Durbin is hoping to gain bipartisan support, but he’s willing to offer the bill as an amendment to other legislation if he can’t get it through a committee.

 

ON TAP FOR THURSDAY

The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold it’s second day of hearings on the nomination of Loretta Lynch for U.S. attorney general. http://1.usa.gov/1By9d4Q

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing to discuss the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Permitting Certainty and Transparency Act, which passed the house on Wednesday by a 277-133 vote. http://1.usa.gov/1CZAcFO

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee will hold a full committee hearing to discuss the better health outcomes and lower costs of employer wellness programs. http://1.usa.gov/15Qtqav

The Environmental Protection Agency will hold a meeting to discuss the national ambient air quality standards for ozone. http://1.usa.gov/1yObARe

The Commerce Department, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Marine Fisheries Service will hold a meeting to review the permit requirements for Atlantic shark fisheries. http://1.usa.gov/1zcYvj7

 

TOMORROW’S REGS TODAY

The Obama administration will publish 185 new regulations, proposed rules, notices and other administrative actions in Thursday's edition of the Federal Register.

Here's what to watch: 

Health Insurance: The Department of Treasury is moving forward with rules that nonprofit health insurance issuers participating in the Affordable Care Act’s Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan program must comply with in order to be exempt from paying federal income tax.http://bit.ly/1Cgg2dY

Human trafficking: The Department of Defense, the General Services Administration and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration are issuing a final rule to strengthen protections against human trafficking in federal contracts. http://bit.ly/1Lijojt

Exports to Ukraine: The Department of Commerce is moving forward with a rule that will make it almost impossible to export or re-export goods to the Crimea region of Ukraine and to transfer goods within the region. http://bit.ly/1DbpBYr

 

NEWS RIGHT NOW

AEDs: The Food and Drug Administration final rule Wednesday that will require automated external defibrillator manufacturers to go through more rigorous reviews and submit premarket approval applications. http://bit.ly/1tsO1Nh

Whistleblowers: House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) has introduced the Veterans Affairs Retaliation Act of 2015, which would establish mandatory disciplinary penalties for employees who retaliate against whistleblowers: a 14-day minimum suspension for the first offense and removal for the second offense. http://bit.ly/1zBni3Q

Football: In preparation for the Super Bowl on Sunday, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a warning reminding the public that it’s illegal to fly a drone over professional sporting events. http://bit.ly/15UQtly

D.C. drones: The manufacturer of a drone that crashed on the White house lawn this week announced plans to introduce technology to keep its machines from flying around downtown D.C. http://bit.ly/18vDfMZ

AG: Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch defended President Obama's executive actions on immigration Wednesday, but said she was not involved in the decision. http://bit.ly/1EqrpAY

Executions: The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to delay the executions of three Oklahoma death row inmates until the justices rule on whether the state’s protocol for lethal injection is constitutional. http://bit.ly/1EqKLWI

Congressional audits: Republican Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulGOP senator asks to be taken off Moore fundraising appeals Red state lawmakers find blue state piggy bank Prosecutors tell Paul to expect federal charges against attacker: report MORE (Ky.) re-introduced a bill that would subject the Federal Reserve's monetary policy discussions and decisions to a congressional audit, Reuters reported. http://reut.rs/1tt38Gs

Immigration: The Justice Department has delayed thousands of immigration hearings by nearly five years, The Wall Street Journal reported. http://on.wsj.com/1z4b81F

 

BY THE NUMBERS

48 million: Number of people who are likely to get sick this year from foodborne diseases. 

128,000: Roughly the number of people who will be hospitalized for foodborne illnesses this year.

3,000: The number of people who will die from foodborne illnesses this year.

 

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"You’re a Knicks fan. It’s a lot tougher being a Knicks fan than going through these questions today," Sen. Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTrump is right: The visa lotto has got to go Schumer predicts bipartisan support for passing DACA fix this year No room for amnesty in our government spending bill MORE (D-N.Y.) said to U.S. Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch during day one of her nomination hearing.

 

We'll work to stay on top of these and other stories throughout the week, so check The Hill's Regulation page (http://thehill.com/regulation) early and often for the latest. And send any comments, complaints or regulatory news tips our way, tdevaney@thehill.com or lwheeler@thehill.com. And follow us at @timdevaney and@wheelerlydia.