Overnight Regulation: Amazon to join 'day of action' for net neutrality | Trump pick for reg czar heads before Congress | Dodd-Frank defenders fight for consumer bureau

Overnight Regulation: Amazon to join 'day of action' for net neutrality | Trump pick for reg czar heads before Congress | Dodd-Frank defenders fight for consumer bureau

Welcome to Overnight Regulation, your daily rundown of news from the federal agencies, Capitol Hill, the courts and beyond. It's Tuesday evening, with two days left until former FBI Director James Comey testifies. Trump on Tuesday said he wishes Comey "luck," and hinted that he might live tweet the hearing.

 

THE BIG STORY 

Some of the internet's biggest names are ready to jump into the fight over the Federal Communications Commission's net neutrality rules.

A coalition of activists and internet companies is mobilizing net neutrality supporters for an online "day of action" on July 12 against Republican FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai's plan to repeal the landmark rules.

Amazon, Reddit, Etsy, Vimeo, Mozilla are among the companies signing up for the protest, which will urge Internet users to help save net neutrality. Also sponsoring the protest are advocacy groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union, Electronic Frontier Foundation and Greenpeace.

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The net neutrality rules prohibit internet service providers from blocking or throttling web content, or creating "fast lanes" for some websites.

Why now? The FCC is currently taking comments on Pai's plan to rollback the rules. So far the FCC has received almost 5 million comments.

What will the protest entail? For now, we don't know. The companies and groups haven't shared many details, and say their organizing is just beginning.

Flashback: It wouldn't be the first time big web companies have mobilized against a policy. In 2012, Wikipedia led the pack in a successful protest against SOPA and PIPA--strict online copyright proposals--by "going black" for a day and blocking access to articles.

Harper Neidig from The Hill's tech team has the story here.

 

ON TAP FOR WEDNESDAY 

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a hearing for a number of Trump administration nominees, including Neomi Rao to be administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at 10 a.m.

A pro-regulations group on Tuesday urged senators to reject Rao, Trump's pick for regulatory czar. "Trump appointed her to defang regulatory agencies, gut regulatory protections and give corporations a free hand to pollute and pilfer, poison and profiteer," said Public Citizen's Robert Weissman. Rao is a professor at the Antonin Scalia School of Law at George Mason University.

The Hill's Lydia Wheeler has more on the hearing and advocacy groups' criticisms of Rao here.

 

Agency chiefs are also heading before Congress for a slew of hearings on their budget requests.

A House Appropriations Subcommittee will hear from Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta on his department's fiscal 2018 request at 10 a.m. Expect Acosta to also get tough questions from Republicans about his decision to move ahead and implement Obama-era rules on financial advisers.

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao will testify before the Senate Commerce Committee on FAA reauthorization at 10 a.m.

A Senate Appropriations Subcommittee will hold a hearing to review the budget request for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission at 2:30 p.m.

 

Postponed: Officials have postponed a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing to discuss Trump nominations for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and an EPA enforcement office.

The committee was due on Wednesday to hear from Trump's NRC nominees -- Annie Capito, David Wright and Chairwoman Kristine Svinicki, who has been renominated to the position -- and Susan Bodine, the committee's chief counsel whom Trump has tapped to be assistant administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. 

That hearing has been cancelled and will instead take place on June 13, the committee announced on Tuesday.

 

REG ROUNDUP 

Finance: Some of the Dodd-Frank Act's staunchest defenders are making a last-ditch effort to kill a bill that would strip much of the 2010 financial regulations.

Progressive lawmakers and political groups are attempting to rally opposition before the House votes on the Financial CHOICE Act this week. That bill, sponsored by House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), would roll back much of Dodd-Frank, a long-standing Republican target.

The CHOICE Act is almost certain to pass the House along party lines. It's largely considered dead on arrival in the Senate, where it would fail to gain enough bipartisan support to overcome a Democratic filibuster.

Even so, liberal lawmakers and allies are speaking out to defend key parts of Dodd-Frank, particularly the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), from future GOP attacks.

The CHOICE Act would strip the CFPB of its independent agency status and control of its own budget. The bureau would be renamed the Consumer Law Enforcement Agency, and would be run by a director appointed by the president. Its budget would be controlled by Congress, meaning a GOP-controlled government could try to defund it entirely to effectively eliminate the agency.

The Hill's Sylvan Lane breaks down the fight here..

 

Education: Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was in the hot seat Tuesday trying to defend President Trump's plan to cut $ 9 billion in education funding. 

Democrats on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies hammered DeVos on her plan to spent $1.4 billion on creating a public and private school choice program. 

DeVos dodged a sharp line of questioning from Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyOvernight Energy: Dems take on Trump's chemical safety pick Dem senator slams Trump for dedicating golf trophy to hurricane victims Dem senator compares Trump to Marie Antoinette MORE (D-Ore.) on whether private schools in the program will be prohibited from discriminating against LGBT students. 

DeVos said repeatedly that schools that received federal funds must follow federal laws but she refused to definitely answer Merkley's question. 

The Hill's Lydia Wheeler has more from the contentious hearing.

 

Tech: Not so fast, Uber! The Trump administration is reportedly revising Obama-era guidelines for driverless vehicles.

The new guidance will focus on spurring industry innovation and encouraging "new entrants and ideas that deliver safer vehicles," Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said, according to multiple reports. But she also emphasized that the agency would not rush to draft binding regulations on self-driving cars.

Tech companies like Uber and Google, as well as automakers like Ford are in a race to get self-driving cars on the road.

The Hill's Melanie Zanona has more here.

 

Environment: Seven states controlled by Democratic administrations are formally challenging the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) decision not to further restrict the use of the controversial pesticide chlorpyrifos. The states' attorneys general, led by New York's Eric Schneiderman (D), filed an administrative challenge on Tuesday. The states could file a lawsuit in court if their initial challenge is not successful.

The states say that the Trump administration violated federal law regarding pesticides, because scientific studies show chlorpyrifos is harmful to the nervous systems and brains of young children.

Timothy Cama tells us more about the challenge here.

 

Finance: Former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke defended a key portion of the Dodd-Frank Act on Tuesday, ahead of this week's House vote on a bill that would replace much of the 2010 law.

Bernanke, the Fed's chairman from 2006 to 2014, said Congress should keep Dodd-Frank's orderly liquidation authority (OLA), the process through which the federal government would take over and manage the assets of a failing bank to prevent a financial crisis.

"I'm puzzled by arguments that say 'OLA isn't perfect, let's get rid of it,'" Bernanke said at a Brookings Institute panel.

The Hill's Will Costello has the story here.

 

Finance: President Trump will nominate Joseph Otting, a former banking executive, to be the Comptroller of the Currency, the White House announced late Monday.

As head of the top regulator for the nation's banks, Otting would play a key role in the administration's pledge to roll back regulations on financial institutions.

Otting previously was the president and CEO of OneWest Bank and before that a vice chairman at U.S. Bancorp.

His nomination requires Senate confirmation.

Otting's tenure as chief executive at OneWest overlapped during Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin's own time at the bank.

Mnuchin came under fire from Democrats during his confirmation hearings for the bank's handling of foreclosures, questions which Otting will also likely to face.

If confirmed, Otting will replace acting chief Keith Noreika, who has been heading the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency since early May.

 

Tech: Rep. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnEquifax breach is the wake-up call we expected Tennessee governor considering Senate run Five major potential Senate candidates MORE (R-Tenn.) is asking Democrats to cosponsor her new internet privacy bill, intended to replace Federal Communications Commission privacy regulations that Republicans killed earlier this year.

Blackburn's office sent an email on Tuesday to all House Democrats asking them to sign on to the new bill, and arguing that it would strengthen existing privacy protections.

"Rep. Blackburn is a former co-chair of the bi-partisan Congressional Privacy Working group," the email reads. "Moreover, she has not been accepting additional Republican co-sponsors while in the midst of taking stakeholder meetings and beginning outreach to Democrats."

Blackburn was a key part of the GOP's effort to kill the FCC rules earlier this year. Those rules would have required internet service providers to get their customers' permission before sharing their data with advertisers.

Her bill could face an uphill climb, as The Hill's Harper Neidig reports.

 

ALSO IN THE NEWS 

DeVos: All schools that receive federal funds must follow federal law

Senate panel to hold hearing on drug prices

Senate panel approves controversial Interior nominee

 

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