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 HatchHatch urged Trump to ‘speak clearly’ against hate groups The Memo: Trump tries to quiet race storm Senators push FTC to finalize changes to contact lens rule MORE (Utah) and Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyWhite House clarifies: We condemn all violence Republican lawmakers criticize Trump response to Charlottesville Grassley reverses ‘expectation’ of Supreme Court vacancy this year MORE (Iowa) along with Sens. Mike LeeMike LeeTrouble draining the swamp? Try returning power to the states Congress must act to protect data privacy before courts make surveillance even easier Five tough decisions for the GOP on healthcare MORE (Utah), James Lankford (Okla.), Jeff FlakeJeff FlakeOPINION: Congress should censure Trump for his unfit conduct Club for Growth endorses Nicholson in Wisconsin GOP primary Immigration battlefield widens for Trump, GOP MORE (Ariz.), James InhofeJames InhofeWasting America’s nuclear opportunity McCain absence adds to GOP agenda’s uncertainty GOP signals infrastructure bill must wait MORE (Okla.), Thom Tillis (N.C.), presidential candidate Ted CruzTed CruzThe media couldn't be more blatant in distorting Trump's words on Charlottesville Curtis wins GOP primary for House seat vacated by Jason Chaffetz Kimmel: Let’s make Trump a king so he has no power MORE (Texas), John CornynJohn CornynImmigration battlefield widens for Trump, GOP Congressional investigations — not just special counsels — strengthen our democracy Wrath of right falls on Google 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 JohnsonRon JohnsonCEOs revolt against Trump over Charlottesville GOP senator: Trump hasn't 'changed much' since campaign Senators push for possible FCC enforcement over Lifeline fraud 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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