Overnight Regulation: Labor groups fear rollback of Obama worker protection rule | Trump regs czar advances in Senate | New FCC enforcement chief

Overnight Regulation: Labor groups fear rollback of Obama worker protection rule | Trump regs czar advances in Senate | New FCC enforcement chief
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Welcome to Overnight Regulation, your daily rundown of news from the federal agencies, Capitol Hill, the courts and beyond. It's Wednesday night, and everyone in the Capitol is awaiting the release of the Senate's ObamaCare repeal bill, likely tomorrow morning.

 

THE BIG STORY

The AFL-CIO fears the Trump administration is planning to roll back a hard fought worker protection rule that was made final in the final days of the Obama administration.

The White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) last week completed a review of a proposed rule from the Labor Department on occupational exposure to beryllium.

OIRA's review could signal the administration is planning to roll back or weaken the rule.

In a statement, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said working people will die if the Trump administration walks back the rule.

What's in the rule? The final rule from the Obama administration reduced the permissible exposure limits of the toxic material from 2.0 micrograms per cubic meter of air to 0.2 micrograms of beryllium per cubic meter of air over an eight-hour period.

But under President Trump, the DOL pushed the effective date of the rule back to May 20 to give the administration time to review and consider the new standard.

What is Beryllium? It's a lightweight metal, used in foundry and smelting operations, machining, beryllium oxide ceramics, composites manufacturing and dental lab work. It is coveted for being lighter and stronger than steel, but it can pose serious health risks when it's crushed to dust and enters the air. 

DOL's response: When questioned about the details of its proposal, Labor said only that it is expecting it to be published in the Federal Register soon.

"Until then, we cannot discuss the matter," Mandy Kraft, a Labor spokeswoman, said in an email to The Hill.

Read Lydia Wheeler's story here.

 

ON TAP FOR THURSDAY 

The Senate Appropriations subcommittee on labor, health and human services, education and related agencies will hold a hearing at 10 a.m. on the National Institutes of Health's fiscal 2018 budget request.   

The Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee will hold a hearing at 10 a.m. to examine fostering economic growth, focusing on the regulatory perspective. 

The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources will hold a hearing at 10:30 a.m. to examine the president's proposed budget request for fiscal year 2018 for the Department of Energy.

The House Committee on Natural Resources will hold a hearing at 9:30 a.m. to examine the Department of the Interior's fiscal 2018 budget proposal and spending priorities.

The House Small Business Committee subcommittee on Agriculture, Energy, and Trade will hold a hearing at 10 a.m. on improving broadband deployment in rural America.

 

REG ROUNDUP

Telecom: A group of Democratic senators wants the Justice Department to block the proposed AT&T-Time Warner merger, saying the deal would hurt consumers.

Senators in a letter urged the DOJ to "defend American competition and innovation and ensure that Americans have open and affordable access to communications services, as well as a wide range of programming."

As a candidate, President Trump railed against the merger, vowing that his administration would not allow it to go through. But since taking office, Trump has generally appointed conservatives to his administration who take a much more hands-off approach towards regulating mergers. 

"Before initiating the next big wave of media consolidation, you must consider how the $85 billion deal will impact Americans' wallets, as well as their access to a wide-range of news and entertainment programming," the senators wrote in a letter to Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsRyan: 'The president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally' Conservatives moving to impeach Rosenstein soon: report Senators urge DOJ to probe whether Russians posed as Islamic extremist hackers to harass US military families MORE.

According to the Democrats, the merger could lead to less competition among mobile broadband and television providers. They also said AT&T could restrict competitors' online and television content in favor of its own, which would violate net neutrality principles.

The letter was signed by: Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenFranken offers Dems a line of questioning for Kavanaugh's 'weirdly specific bit of bulls---' The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — GOP lawmakers race to find an immigration fix Richard Painter puts out 'dumpster fire' in first campaign ad MORE (D-Minn.), Sens. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyHillicon Valley: Mueller indicts Russians for DNC hack | US officially lifts ZTE ban | AT&T CEO downplays merger challenge | Microsoft asks for rules on facial recognition technology | Dems want probe into smart TVs Dems push FTC to investigate smart TVs over privacy concerns Hillicon Valley: Hacker tried to sell military docs on dark web | Facebook fined over Cambridge Analytica | US closer to lifting ZTE ban | Trump, Obama lose followers in Twitter purge | DOJ weighs appeal on AT&T merger MORE (D-Mass.), Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenSenate panel to vote Thursday on Trump's pick to lead IRS On The Money: US files complaints at WTO | House leaders get deal to boost biz investment | Mnuchin says US will consider Iran sanctions waivers | FCC deals blow to Sinclair-Tribune merger Senate GOP poised to break record on Trump's court picks MORE (D-Ore.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann Warren2020 Dems slam Trump over Putin presser Senate Dems rip Trump after Putin news conference Sanders: Trump should confront Putin over Mueller probe indictments MORE (D-Mass.), Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleySenate GOP poised to break record on Trump's court picks Schumer: Does Putin have 'damaging information' on Trump? Dem senator says it's ‘likely’ Putin has something on Trump MORE (D-Ore.), Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersShowtime says Sacha Baron Cohen did not dress as 'disabled veteran' 2020 Dems slam Trump over Putin presser Ocasio-Cortez floating progressive sub-caucus MORE (I-Vt.), Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellPoll: Majority of Americans support Roe v. Wade The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by Better Medicare Alliance — Protests and anger: Washington in turmoil as elections near Dem senator says Supreme Court vote could be 'career ending' for lawmakers MORE (D-Wash.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownSenate Dems tell Trump: Don't meet with Putin one-on-one On The Money — Sponsored by Prudential — Trump walks back criticism of UK Brexit strategy | McConnell worries US in 'early stages' of trade war | US trade deficit with China hits new record Blueprint to Lower Drug Prices could offer a way forward in fight against mushrooming costs MORE (D-Ohio), and Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinOvernight Health Care: Over 7,000 fail to meet Medicaid work rules in Arkansas | Judge temporarily halts deportations of reunited families | GOP chair in talks over restarting ObamaCare payments Dem senator calls for 'permanent' price cuts at Pfizer Wisconsin GOP Senate candidate rips his own parents for donations to Dems MORE (D-Wis.).

Harper Neidig has the story here.

 

Environment: A government lawyer said officials don't know how long it will take them to redo an environmental review of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Matthew Marinelli, an Army Corps of Engineers lawyer, said he had "no timeframe" for completing that review, and that he would have an updated schedule when he files more paperwork with the court on July 17. 

A judge ruled last week that parts of the government's environmental assessment of the 1,170-mile Dakota Access pipeline were inadequate. He ordered the Army Corps to reconsider the project's impact on local tribes and their hunting and fishing rights and whether permitting decisions around the pipeline were fair to tribe members.

However, the judge didn't order oil to stop flowing through the pipeline. Lawyers for the tribes opposed to the project said Wednesday they worry the government and Dakota Access developers will quickly complete the required environmental reviews of the project without allowing them to comment on the matter.

Devin Henry has the full story.

 

Executive order: A final brief from the Trump administration urged the Supreme Court to reinstate the president's travel ban and hear its appeal of a lower court ruling blocking the executive order.

The administration filed the brief a day before the justices are scheduled to convene. It takes a vote of four justices to take up a case and a vote of five to halt the lower court rulings that blocked the ban nationwide, The Hill's Lydia Wheeler reports.

The administration has pushed to reinstate the 90-day ban on nationals from six majority-Muslim countries from entering the U.S., arguing that the countries affected by the revised order are at heightened risk for terrorism. The order also temporarily suspends the U.S. refugee program.

The International Refugee Assistance Project is challenging the ban, in addition to the state of Hawaii. They told the court there is no reason to take the case because there is no circuit split to resolve.

Read Lydia's story here.

 

Technology: The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission is appointing Rosemary Harold as the new chief for the agency's enforcement bureau. 

Harold is a partner at Wilkinson Barker Knauer LLP. According to the firm's website, she specializes in "media, broadband, and First Amendment issues." Harold previously served as an attorney at the FCC under Republican Commissioner Robert McDowell and worked as a reporter before joining the agency. 

The enforcement bureau deals with the Communications Act and FCC rules to ensure "consumer protection, robust competition, efficient and responsible use of the public airwaves, and strict compliance with public safety-related rules."

Many believe the enforcement bureau will be less aggressive under Pai than it was under Obama-appointed Chairman Tom Wheeler, who is seen as more friendly to industry interests than his predecessor.

Ali Breland has the story here.

 

Environment: Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke accused Democrats of "willfully" delaying the confirmation of his department's nominees. 

"In my opinion, it's being slow-rolled, and it's not the White House," Zinke said in response to questions from Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiThis week: GOP mulls vote on ‘abolish ICE’ legislation Dem infighting erupts over Supreme Court pick McConnell: Senate to confirm Kavanaugh by Oct. 1 MORE (R-Alaska) on the slow pace of staffing during a hearing of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, the Environment and Related Agencies. 

Zinke said it wasn't Murkowski or Republicans who were slowing the process.

"That is a frustration, and I suspect it's being done willfully," Zinke said.

President Trump tapped David Bernhardt to be deputy secretary of the Interior, but Democrats have raised concerns about his past work in lobbying and his potential conflicts of interest.

Will Costello has the story here.

 

Technology: Rep. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnLawmakers to take aim at urban, rural broadband divide Lawmakers press Apple, Google on data collection Election Countdown: Calls to abolish ICE test Dem candidates | First round of House GOP 'Young Guns' | How Tester is handling Trump's Montana visit | Dem candidate won't back Schumer as leader | Super PACs ramp up Missouri ad buys MORE (R-Tenn.) chastised Democrats on Wednesday for not rallying around her internet privacy bill, after they criticized the GOP's efforts to kill privacy restrictions earlier this year.

"I will say to my colleagues that I would be happy to discuss my Browser Act on the privacy issue, and we have reached out to all of the Democratic offices in the House on this issue," Blackburn said, adding that she was "disappointed" by the lack of response to her outreach

President Trump in April signed a resolution repealing a set of internet privacy rules passed by the FCC last year that would have required internet service providers to get consumer's permission before sharing their data with advertisers.

Since then, Blackburn has introduced legislation called the Browser Act that would impose similar restrictions on both internet service providers and web-based companies like Facebook and Google.

But the bill has yet to gain support from Democrats, who are still outraged by the privacy repeal bill and the FCC's efforts to roll back its Obama-era net neutrality regulations.

Read Harper Neidig's story here.

 

Technology: Sen. Chris CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsSunday shows preview: Trump readies for meeting with Putin Sunday shows preview: Washington braces for Trump's Supreme Court pick America stands to lose as China places bets on developing world MORE (D-Del.) is introducing legislation aimed at making it easier and cheaper for patent holders to enforce their patents.

The bill is based on legislation Coons introduced last year, which aimed at making patent proceedings "more fair and efficient," according to a statement from his office.

A key portion of the legislation focuses on inter partes review, a controversial measure which, starting in 2012, gave the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) the authority to review patent challenges.

Coons's bill, which has bipartisan support, would "harmonize" the USPTO's standards with those used in federal court patent litigation. 

Ali Breland has the report.

 

Administration: The Trump administration's so-called "regulatory czar," is one step closer to being confirmed by the Senate.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee voted 11 to 4 to send Neomi Rao's nomination to lead the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) to the Senate floor for a vote.  

The four Democrats who voted against her, included Sens. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterDem infighting erupts over Supreme Court pick Dems in terrible bind on Kavanaugh nomination Election Countdown: Latest on the 2018 Senate money race | Red-state Dems feeling the heat over Kavanaugh | Dem doubts about Warren | Ocasio-Cortez to visit Capitol Hill | Why Puerto Ricans in Florida could swing Senate race MORE (Mont.),
Gary Peters (Mich.),
Maggie Hassan (N.H.) and Kamala Harris (Calif.).

If confirmed as the OIRA administrator, Rao would oversee the review of all significant proposed and final rules.

Read Lydia Wheeler's story here.

 

ALSO IN THE NEWS

Trump is hosting a meeting with drone companies Thursday to discuss regulations (Recode)

FDA chief looks to boost generic drug competition (RAPS)

Gottlieb's FDA to rethink targeted therapy regulation to speed development, drive down healthcare costs (FierceBiotech)

Student loan servicing giant takes on state regulatory moves (CBS News)

Regulation could stifle growing China-US venture activity (TechCrunch)

Nannies in Texas: Self-regulation raises concerns (Houston Public Media)

 

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