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 HatchTrump struggles to get new IRS team in place Romney forced into GOP primary for Utah Senate nomination Romney won't commit yet to supporting Trump in 2020 MORE (Utah) and Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyGrassley renews complaints about History Channel Republicans divided over legislation protecting Mueller The Hill's Morning Report: Inside the Comey memos MORE (Iowa) along with Sens. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeSenate confirms Trump’s pick to lead NASA Key senators warn Trump of North Korea effort on Syria Rep. Jordan: Action in Syria ‘should be debated in Congress’ MORE (Utah), James Lankford (Okla.), Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakePompeo lacks votes for positive vote on panel Overnight Energy: Senate confirms Bridenstine as NASA chief | Watchdog probes Pruitt’s use of security detail | Emails shine light on EPA science policy changes Arizona GOP tinkers with election rules with an eye on McCain's seat MORE (Ariz.), James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeDems give muted praise to Pompeo-Kim meeting Overnight Energy: Former Pruitt aide alleges more wasteful spending, retaliation | Senate confirms EPA No. 2 | Zinke backs off big park fee increases Senate approves Trump’s pick for No. 2 at EPA MORE (Okla.), Thom Tillis (N.C.), presidential candidate Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzCruz's Dem challenger slams Time piece praising Trump Race for Republican Speaker rare chance to unify party for election 32 male senators back Senate women's calls to change harassment rules MORE (Texas), John CornynJohn CornynJoe Scarborough predicts Trump won't run in 2020 Republicans divided over legislation protecting Mueller Democrats mull audacious play to block Pompeo 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 JohnsonGOP senator: Congress needs ‘to move on’ from Russia probe GOP senator: ‘Way too early’ to talk about supporting Trump in 2020 IG report faults fired FBI official McCabe for leak to media 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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