Overnight Regulation: FTC launches probe into Equifax | Dems propose tougher data security rules | NYC aims to slash greenhouse gas emissions | EPA to reconsider Obama coal ash rule

Welcome to Overnight Regulation, your daily rundown of news from the federal agencies, Capitol Hill, the courts and beyond. It's Thursday night, where we're having whiplash over whether Trump made a deal with Democrats over DACA or not.

 

THE BIG STORY

The Federal Trade Commission announced it had launched an investigation into the Equifax breach, which left sensitive information for 143 million Americans exposed to hackers.

It's extremely rare for the agency to even publicly confirm an investigation.

"The FTC typically does not comment on ongoing investigations," FTC spokesman Peter Kaplan said in an email. "However, in light of the intense public interest and the potential impact of this matter, I can confirm that FTC staff is investigating the Equifax data breach."

What happened? Last week, Equifax revealed a breach that had taken place in May and June and exposed information, like Social Security numbers, of nearly half the country. More than 200,000 people had their credit card numbers stolen as well.

What's Congress doing? Lawmakers have also been scrutinizing the credit-reporting agency. Multiple committees have announced hearings on the breach and on Wednesday the House Commerce Committee invited Equifax CEO Richard Smith to testify before on the company's handling of the crisis.

Read Harper Neidig's piece here.

 

The fallout: Equifax stock plunged in value Thursday morning, dropping nearly 10 percent after the market opened, sinking as low as $90.64 per share, about $8 lower than Wednesday's close. Equifax stock recovered slightly by 11 a.m., reaching $95 per share. It closed at 96.66.

Sylvan Lane reports.

 

REGULATORY ROUNDUP:

More Equifax: Sen. Edward MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeySenate Democrats introduce bill to block Trump's refugee ban FCC votes to limit program funding internet access for low-income communities Two GOP senators oppose Trump’s EPA chemical safety nominee MORE (D-Mass.) introduced legislation Thursday that would press data broker companies, including recently breached credit report company Equifax, to implement better privacy and security practices.

What it would do: Cosponsored by Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenReport: Conyers settled wrongful dismissal complaint over 'sexual advances' Arianna Huffington denies Franken behaved inappropriately in response to new photos Right way and wrong way MORE (D-Minn.) and Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseDems in Germany: Trump can't stop clean energy revolution Senate Dems demand answers on Social Security info given to election integrity commission Strange bedfellows on criminal justice reform could offer Trump a legislative win MORE (D-R.I.), the bill would mandate "comprehensive" privacy and security programs at data brokers and allow the public to opt out of having their data included in data sales.

"We need to shed light on this 'shadow' industry of surreptitious data collection that has amassed covert dossiers on hundreds of millions of Americans," Markey said of "The Data Broker Accountability and Transparency Act" in a press release.

Joe Uchill has more here.

 

Finance: The House of Representatives on Wednesday night struck down a measure that would place the federal regulator for credit unions under tighter congressional control, earning praise from credit union trade groups.

The House removed language from a funding bill that would have placed the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) under congressional appropriations. That measure would have given lawmakers control of the independent regulator's budget, and was included in a bill to roll back much of the Dodd-Frank Act.

Groups representing credit unions praised the House for striking the language, calling the move a major win for the industry.

Credit union advocates said that congressional interference could complicate the small firms' close relationship with NCUA and give the regulator less control over stabilizing credit unions.

More from Sylvan Lane.

 

Environment: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulators will reconsider portions of an Obama administration rule regulating coal ash, a byproduct of fossil fuel-fired power plants.

The rule, finalized in 2015, set new standards for coal ash disposal sites and boosted inspection and monitoring operations to make sure the sites don't leak or spill.

Coal ash is a waste product produced by burning coal. It can contain small amounts of toxic chemicals, and is generally stored in ponds or pits near the power plants that burn them.

The EPA's rule was the first national standard for coal ash disposal, and it came after a series of high-profile spills and leaks.

But President Trump's EPA said it would reconsider sections of the rule after utilities petitioned the agency.

Devin Henry has more here.

 

More environment: New York City is imposing restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions from existing buildings.

The new pollution standards, announced by Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) on Thursday, would require owners of large buildings to take steps to meet new fossil fuel caps, including upgrading boilers, water heaters, roofs and windows, and accelerating replacement or refinancing plans for their buildings.

The targets aim to help the city cut its overall greenhouse gas emissions by 7 percent by 2035.

Context: The building standards come as New York attempts to abide by the Paris climate deal, which aims to reduce climate change-causing greenhouse gas emissions around the world.

Devin has the report.

 

Technology: Senators on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Thursday criticized a subsidy program for phone and internet access that was the subject of a recent watchdog report detailing cases of fraud and abuse.

Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonAlabama election has GOP racing against the clock Tax bills speed up global tax race to the bottom Someone besides the president should have the nuclear codes MORE (R-Wis.), the panel's chairman, said at a hearing that there "probably" needs to be a complete overhaul of the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Lifeline program, which offers low-income households a monthly $9.25 subsidy for mobile and broadband internet access.

"We need to completely rethink how we distribute that subsidy," Johnson told reporters.

What the watchdog found: The Government Accountability Office (GAO) put out a report in June that found $1.2 million in subsidies went to fake or deceased people enrolled in the program. The GAO could not verify the eligibility of 36 percent of the program's subscribers.

Read Harper's story here.

 

Environment: Two Senate Democrats are threatening to delay a confirmation vote for a key Trump administration Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) nominee.

Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.) and Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleySenate Democrats introduce bill to block Trump's refugee ban Overnight Defense: Army secretary easily confirmed | Army denies changing mental health standards | US to trim peacekeeping funds | House passes bill to speed up approval of battlefield medicines Senate approves Trump's Army pick MORE (Ore.) wrote a letter late Wednesday to Susan Bodine, picked to lead the EPA's enforcement office, expressing "several concerns" about her current job at the agency, the EPA's enforcement of an Obama administration methane rule, and some written answers she gave after her confirmation hearing.

Trump nominated Bodine, previously chief counsel at the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, to the EPA position in May, and that same committee voted along party lines in July to advance her nomination.

Timothy Cama has the story.

 

Sanctions: The Trump administration on Thursday sanctioned seven Iranian nationals and an Iran-based computer security company for their role in cyberattacks targeting the U.S. financial system.

The Treasury Department announced sanctions on 11 entities and individuals for supporting Iran's elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and networks responsible for the cyberattacks.

The seven Iranian nationals added to the Office of Foreign Assets Control sanctions list are the same ones indicted by the Justice Department in March 2016 for their role in coordinated cyberattacks against the U.S. financial sector between 2011 and 2013.

Morgan Chalfant reports.

 

Transportation: An industry-led aviation panel is recommending that the Trump administration roll back or ease dozens of safety rules, according to the Associated Press.

The Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee voted on Thursday to approve a report with the recommendations, which were billed as an effort to help the agency comply with the White House's push to reduce regulations.

One of the rules that the report suggested eliminating relates to pilot qualifications and training hours, according to the AP.

After the deadly 2009 Colgan Air crash in New York, in which pilot error was to blame, victims' family members lobbied Congress for stricter regulations for regional air carriers. Lawmakers increased the minimum number of flight training hours to 1,500 hours for first officers who want to obtain a license to fly commercial passenger airliners.

But regional airlines have been pushing back against the changes.

Melanie Zanona has more.

 

ELSEWHERE IN THE NEWS

Former Google employees allege bias against women (The Wall Street Journal)

As GOP moves to fill courts, McConnell takes aim at an enduring hurdle (The New York Times)

Justice Department mulls changing corporate prosecution policy (Reuters)

 

Send tips and story ideas on over to me at rroubein@thehill.com and follow me on Twitter at @rachel_roubein.