Overnight Regulation: GOP bill targets agency authority

Welcome to Overnight Regulation, your daily rundown of news from Capitol Hill and beyond. It's Thursday evening here in Washington and we're wishing everyone a Happy St. Patrick's Day. 

Here's the latest. 



Senate Republicans unveiled legislation Thursday to crack down on regulatory overreach.

The Separation of Powers Restoration Act would clarify the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) to state that courts, not agencies, are to interpret all questions of law, including both statutes and regulations.

The bill was introduced by Sens. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchGOP eyes limits on investor tax break Children’s health-care bill faces new obstacles Overnight Finance: White House requests B for disaster relief | Ex-Equifax chief grilled over stock sales | House panel approves B for border wall | Tax plan puts swing-state Republicans in tough spot MORE (Utah) and Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyRepublicans jockey for position on immigration House clears bill to combat crimes against elderly Grassley: DACA deal wouldn't need border wall funding MORE (Iowa) along with Sens. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeWhatever you think the Alabama special election means, you’re probably wrong How the effort to replace ObamaCare failed Overnight Regulation: Trump temporarily lifts Jones Act for Puerto Rico | Bill would exempt some banks from Dodd-Frank | Senators unveil driverless car bill MORE (Utah), James Lankford (Okla.), Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeAuthorizing military force is necessary, but insufficient Republicans jockey for position on immigration McCain, Flake warn against 'politically-motivated penalties' for Canadian defense firm MORE (Ariz.), James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeA third of Congress hasn’t held a town hall — it’s time to take action Anonymous affiliate publishes claimed list of GOP private contact info Wasting America’s nuclear opportunity MORE (Okla.), Thom Tillis (N.C.), presidential candidate Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzWhatever you think the Alabama special election means, you’re probably wrong This week: Congress gets ball rolling on tax reform Week ahead: Senators work toward deal to fix ObamaCare markets MORE (Texas), John CornynJohn CornynGun proposal picks up GOP support House bill set to reignite debate on warrantless surveillance Republicans jockey for position on immigration MORE (Texas), Ben Sasse (Neb.) and Dan Sullivan (Alaska), all Republicans.

The lawmakers say federal agencies have continued to accumulate more power since the Supreme Court's 1984 ruling in Chevron U.S.A. Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council Inc. That case, creating the Chevron doctrine, said that courts should defer to an agency's interpretation of a statute as long as the statute is "ambiguous" and the agency's reading is "reasonable."

Lawmakers say that deference allows agencies to rewrite laws and issue regulations as they see fit.

Grassley said the practice has weakened the nation's system of checks and balances in remarks at a Heritage Foundation event to discuss the Chevron doctrine on Thursday.

"Congress delegates too much power in the first place to regulators as you know, but this undermines accountability," he said. "It's not the way our founders intended our government to work under the principle of checks and balances."

He later added that the, "consequences of regulatory overreach are felt by the people who foot the bill for all this: the American people." 

The bill is part of Lee's Article I project, an initiative he's launched with lawmakers in both chambers to reassert Congress's powers under Article I of the Constitution.

Article I, he explained, says "all legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress."

"It's time to turn back to the text of the Constitution on which we swore oath to uphold," Lee added. http://bit.ly/1pONh4k



The Obama administration will publish 221 new regulations, proposed rules, notices and other administrative actions in Friday's edition of the Federal Register.

--The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will block the use of certain "cattle material" in human food to prevent the spread of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as mad cow disease.

The cattle materials ban will mostly affect dietary supplements and cosmetics.

The cattle materials that will be prohibited include the small intestine, "material from nonambulatory disabled cattle, material from cattle not inspected and passed, or mechanically separated beef."

The FDA says it is hoping to "minimize human exposure to certain cattle material that could potentially contain the BSE agent."

The new rules go into effect in 30 days. http://bit.ly/1MbzVcy

--The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) will propose monitoring the survival of certain humpback whales that it does not believe are currently endangered.

The NMFS proposed listing several species of humpback whales as endangered or threatened in April 2015, but the ruling did not apply to the entire species. It is now planning to keep an eye on the remaining humpback whales through this monitor plan.

The public has 30 days to comment. http://bit.ly/21xRXr2

--The Department of Transportation will develop new guidelines for automated vehicles that operate without a driver.

The Transportation Department's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will hold a public meeting as it develops guidelines "for the safe deployment and operation of automated vehicles."

"For example, of high importance to the agency is information on the roadway scenarios and operational environments highly automated vehicles will need to address and the associated design and evaluation processes and methods needed to ensure that [automated vehicle] systems can detect and appropriately react to these scenarios such that a high level of safety is assured when these systems are deployed on U.S. roadways," the NHTSA writes.

"Also of interest would be input on aspects of automated vehicle technology that may not be suitable or ready for guidelines," it adds.

The public meeting will take place on April 8. http://bit.ly/1Rp9ZWR



GOP bill seeks to roll back Obama overtime rule. http://bit.ly/1pOJCn7

Labor chief pushing White House on overtime, silica rules. http://bit.ly/1XytkcH

Hatch: Dems acting 'holier-than-thou' on Supreme Court. http://bit.ly/1S6RNEJ

Grassley: Met with 'dictator,' can meet with SCOUTS nominee. http://bit.ly/1SWxgoz

Cornyn: Supreme Court nominee in lame duck is 'a terrible idea.' http://bit.ly/1UDVHHp

Why Obama picked Merrick Garland. http://bit.ly/1UCzHN2

Equal pay top issue for working women, survey finds. http://bit.ly/1MpI08i



11 percent: Women who said they work over 50 hours a week. 

19 percent: Women who said they hold multiple jobs 

59 percent: Women who said they are the primary breadwinner. 

(Source: A recent AFL-CIO survey. The group is highlighting the results to push for equal pay for women nationwide.) http://bit.ly/1MpI08i



"I have no problem with meeting with people. I'll have to say, I'm not sure what the point will be," Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonGun proposal picks up GOP support GOP lawmaker to unveil bill banning gun bump stocks Senate Homeland Security chairman backs bump-stock ban after Las Vegas shootings MORE (R-Wisc.) told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel when asked whether he'll meet with Obama's Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland. Democrats are pressing vulnerable Republicans to meet with Garland.


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.

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