Overnight Regulation: Dem asks SEC to probe health pick | Interior nominee questioned on public lands, climate

Overnight Regulation: Dem asks SEC to probe health pick | Interior nominee questioned on public lands, climate
© Getty Images

Welcome to Overnight Regulation, your daily rundown of news from the federal agencies, Capitol Hill, the courts and beyond. It's Tuesday evening here in Washington, where Senate confirmation battles for will rule the week.

Here's the latest.



A Senate Democrat is calling for the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to investigate stock purchases made by President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpSunday Shows preview: Lawmakers, Trump allies discuss Russia probe, migrant family separation Seth McFarlane: Fox News makes me 'embarrassed' to work for this company  'Art of the Deal' co-author: Trump would act like Kim Jong Un if he had the same powers MORE's nominee to lead the Department of Health and Human Services.  

Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) must "play by the same rules as everyone else," Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandCongress must confront sexual abuse of military children The Hill's Morning Report — Can the economy help Republicans buck political history in 2018? Sanders gets best reception at early 2020 audition MORE (D-N.Y.) wrote in a letter to SEC Chairwoman Mary Jo White.

"I write to ask that your office immediately investigate whether Tom Price … violated the STOCK Act and other federal laws in the purchase and sale of shares of a medical device manufacturer," Gillibrand wrote.


The Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act, which Gillibrand championed, prohibits members of Congress from profiting off of non-public information.

Democrats are questioning whether Price may have violated the STOCK Act following a CNN report that he purchased up to $15,000 worth of stock in the medical device manufacturer Zimmer Biomet last March, then introduced a bill a few days later that would have benefited the company. 

The Trump team dismissed the CNN report as "junk," adding that the investment was made by a broker and that Price was not aware of it until after he had introduced the legislation.

"Any effort to connect the introduction of bipartisan legislation by Dr. Price to any campaign contribution is demonstrably false," said transition spokesman Phil Blando in a statement. "The only pattern we see emerging is that Senate Democrats and their liberal media allies cannot abide the notion that Dr. Tom Price is uniquely qualified to lead HHS and will stop at nothing to smear his reputation."

Separately, Time reported on Tuesday that Price invested in six pharmaceutical companies before supporting legislation that would benefit them. 

Gillibrand noted that Price's position in Congress gives him "special access to non-public information regarding legislative and regulatory action affecting wide swaths of the healthcare industry, including medical device manufacturers like Zimmer Biomet."

"The STOCK Act makes clear that Members of Congress and high-level Administration officials cannot profit from nonpublic information," she wrote. "The American people need to know that their elected leaders and high-level Administration appointees play by the same rules as everyone else."

Price's Senate confirmation hearing is Wednesday. Democrats are gearing up for a fight, but could face an uphill battle in preventing him from being confirmed, with Republicans holding a 52-48 majority. Cabinet nominees only require a majority for confirmation. 

Click here for the full story. And The Hill's Peter Schroeder has more on how the controversy is putting the STOCK Act in the spotlight.


Elsewhere on Capitol Hill, Trump's pick to head the Interior Department, Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.), went before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee for his confirmation hearing. The Hill's Timothy Cama takes us there:

Rep. Ryan Zinke, President-elect Donald Trump's choice to lead the Interior Department, on Tuesday called public lands "America's treasure" and promised changes like better cooperation with local communities near federal lands.

Zinke's opening speech at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee focused on his credentials as a committed conservationist, while largely avoiding controversial issues like how much fossil fuel extraction should happen on federal land.

"Without question, our public lands are America's treasure and are rich in diversity," said Zinke, a Republican who currently serves as Montana's at-large representative in the House.

"If confirmed, I will work with each of you to ensure the use of our public lands reflects higher purpose so that our children's children can look back and say 'we did it right.'"

Zinke said he recognizes that different federal lands deserve different treatment, such as wilderness areas that humans rarely touch and areas where "multiple-use" management, like recreation, energy development and other activities, are more appropriate.

He said he would make three priorities: work to restore trust through cooperation with local communities and states, work on the National Park Service's $12.5 million maintenance backlog -- which he wants to be part of Trump's major infrastructure legislation -- and giving front-line land managers the ability to make decisions that they need to.

Click here for the full story.

At the hearing, Zinke also broke with Trump on climate change, telling lawmakers it is "not a hoax." 



The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee will hold a hearing to consider Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) for secretary of Health and Human Services. 

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will hold a hearing on Secretary of Commerce nominee Wilbur Ross. 

The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations will hold a hearing to consider South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley to become ambassador to the United Nations. 



Here's a sneak peek at Wednesday's edition of the Federal Register:

--The Department of Energy (DOE) will issue new efficiency rules for dedicated-purpose pool pumps.

The Energy Department's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy will issue new energy conservation standards for these pool pumps that would cost industry more than $35 million to comply.

But the efficiency standards would reduce energy consumption by more than 60 percent for pool pumps, which the agency estimates could help consumers save as much as $24 billion on their energy bills over the next three decades.

The rule goes into effect in 120 days.

--The National Park Service (NPS) will withdraw an electronic cigarette rule.

The NPS proposed new restrictions on e-cigarettes on Jan. 6, but says it is withdrawing the rules, because it needs more time to coordinate with other federal agencies.

These rules would have been in addition to the park service's existing smoking policy, which covered various uses of e-cigarettes, and which will not be affected by the withdrawal, the agency says.

--The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will draft new tobacco guidelines.

The FDA's deeming rule prohibits companies from providing free tobacco samples, but the agency's draft guidance would provide industry with "information intended to assist manufacturers, distributors, and retailers in complying with the regulations," the agency says.

The public has 30 days to comment.



Report: concealed-carry permit holders have killed hundreds since 2007. 

Dems want Sessions to recuse himself from Trump-Russia probe 

Amazon to accept food stamps for online grocery purchases 

Justices weigh which crimes qualify immigrants for deportation 

Women's march to include gun violence protesters

Court denies protesters prime spot on inaugural parade route 

AT&T: No need to spin off CNN for Time Warner deal

Mulvaney, Puzder confirmation hearings set

Report: Utah AG being considered to head Federal Trade Commission

Obama health chief 'encouraged' by Trump drug comments

Dem senators to Trump: Don't tell consumer bureau chief 'you're fired'

Greens expand ad campaign against Trump EPA pick

CBO: 18 million could lose coverage after ObamaCare repeal

GOP environment chairman plans 'wholesale change' at EPA

5 things to look for in Betsy DeVos' confirmation hearing – NPR



16: Proposed rules

15: Final rules

(From the Federal Register.)



"@realDonaldTrump @drgoodspine And you're a man with great responsibilities. May I suggest more care on Twitter and more time learning about #climatechange," Ivanka Majic tweeted Tuesday morning when President-elect Donald Trump accidentally tagged her in a tweet instead of his daughter. 

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.

Click here to sign up for the newsletter: http://bit.ly/1Vygy0F