Overnight Regulation: Trump adviser affirms plans to leave climate deal | FDA to study new cigarette warning labels | DOJ investigating Equifax stock sales

Overnight Regulation: Trump adviser affirms plans to leave climate deal | FDA to study new cigarette warning labels | DOJ investigating Equifax stock sales
© Getty Images

Welcome to Overnight Regulation, your daily rundown of news from the federal agencies, Capitol Hill, the courts and beyond. It's Monday evening, and the Senate is back in session while House lawmakers are away for the week. Momentum is also building for the Senate to take another stab at repealing ObamaCare before a September 30th deadline.

 

THE BIG STORY

Reports that President Trump is changing his mind about the Paris Accords are premature, according to Gary Cohn, Trump's chief economic adviser.

At an informal breakfast with foreign ministers and climate and energy officials in New York City Monday morning, Cohn said that the administration still plans to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement.

ADVERTISEMENT

He told reporters afterward that he reaffirmed what Trump said in June at the White House: The United States plans to pull out of Paris unless the accord can be made better for the country.

"We made the president's position unambiguous, to where the president stands, where the administration stands on Paris," he said, according to Reuters.

The Wall Street Journal initially reported Saturday that a White House official had told climate ministers in Montreal that Trump had decided not to pull out of the Paris accord.

The White House quickly denied that, but repeated that, as before, Trump could be open to a different agreement.

On Sunday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told CBS News's "Face the Nation" that Trump could rejoin the deal "under the right conditions."

Tillerson and Cohn both supported the Paris agreement before Trump's pullout announcement and advocated for Trump to stay in it.

Timothy Cama has more here.

 

ON TAP FOR TUESDAY

Center for American Progress is holding an event titled "Fair Maps, Fair Elections, and Fair Representation" at 1 p.m.

The Senate Finance Committee holds a hearing on business tax reform at 10 a.m. at the Dirksen Senate Office Building, room 215.

The Heritage Foundation holds a preview of the Supreme Court's 2017 term at 12 p.m.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee meets to consider President Trump's nominees to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission at 9:30 a.m.

  

REG ROUNDUP

Health: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is planning to launch a research study to find new warning labels for cigarette packs.

The agency announced its proposed Experimental Study on Warning Statements for Cigarettes Graphic Health Warnings in a public notice in the Federal Register on Monday.

The voluntary online consumer study aims to assess whether potential warning statements, which the FDA was forced to revise, promote a greater public understanding of the negative health effects of smoking cigarettes.

In 2009, Congress enacted the Tobacco Control Act, which amended the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act and required the FDA to issue "regulations that require color graphics depicting the negative health consequences of smoking to accompany the label statements."

In June 2011, the FDA issued a final rule that required manufacturers to use one of nine images with new warning statements on product packaging and in advertisements. The agency claimed the new warnings would help current smokers quit and discourage minors and nonsmokers from picking up the habit.

But R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and four other cigarette manufacturers sued, arguing that the required labels, which included textual warnings, a corresponding graphic image and the "1-800-QUIT-NOW" cessation hotline number, violated the First Amendment.

The manufacturers claimed the FDA's new warnings were designed merely to send a message that consumers should not buy a lawful product.

The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the tobacco companies in 2012.

The Hill's Lydia Wheeler has more here

  

Environment: The Trump administration has filled many politically appointed positions at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with officials tied to President Trump's campaign, industries the agency regulates, and those with ties to Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittZinke under federal investigation for speech to NHL team: report Overnight Regulation: Senate panel approves driverless car bill | House bill to change joint-employer rule advances | Treasury to withdraw proposed estate tax rule | Feds delaying Obama methane leak rule Overnight Energy: Dems take on Trump's chemical safety pick MORE's past job as Oklahoma's attorney general.

In resumes for two dozen political appointees who joined the agency since Inauguration Day, ties to Pruitt and Trump shine, while few employees have much experience in environmental protection.

The resumes were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by American Oversight, a liberal group launched in March for the express purpose of investigating the Trump administration.

Some of the individuals have already left the agency, but critics say the resumes show the administration is stacking the EPA with former industry officials as well as Trump and Pruitt political backers, with few environmental experts.

The Hill's Tim Cama explains.

 

Cybersecurity: Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) reintroduced a bill establishing a national breach notification law on Monday in response to the massive hack at credit reporting company Equifax.

"There is much still to learn about the Equifax breach and its ramifications, what is abundantly clear, however, is that consumers are still not sure whether they were affected and what information was stolen," Langevin said in a press release announcing the reintroduction of the Personal Data Notification and Protection Act, considered an Obama administration priority when it was introduced in 2015.

"Equifax has done a terrible job communicating about the breach to date, and this legislation will ensure that any future such breach has a single standard and one federal regulator to help get actionable information to consumers quickly," Langevin continued.

The laws designating how businesses must react after a data breach currently vary wildly from state to state.

Read more here.

 

More cyber: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) on Monday announced plans to expand the state's strict cybersecurity standards for the financial sector to credit reporting bureaus.

The announcement comes on the heels of the massive Equifax breach, which could affect as many as 143 million Americans.

"A person's credit history affects virtually every part of their lives and we will not sit idly by while New Yorkers remain unprotected from cyberattacks due to lax security," Cuomo said, unveiling the proposed regulatory change.

"Oversight of credit reporting agencies will help ensure that personal information is less vulnerable to cyberattacks and other nefarious acts in this rapidly changing digital world."

New York's cyber regulations for finance include mandatory cybersecurity executives and security testing. It is unclear if abiding by those regulations could have prevented the Equifax breach.

Read more here

 

Finance: The Justice Department is said to be investigating possible violations of insider trading laws by top executives at credit reporting firm Equifax. 

Bloomberg reported on Monday that investigators are examining stock sales made by three top executives at the company before Equifax disclosed a data breach in which hackers accessed the Social Security numbers and other personal information of as many as 143 million U.S. consumers. 

Equifax has been under intense scrutiny for nearly two weeks since disclosing the breach, which went unnoticed for more than a month before it was discovered at the end of July. 

Bloomberg was first to report earlier this month that three Equifax executives -- Chief Financial Officer John Gamble, President of U.S. Information Solutions Joseph Loughran and President of Workforce Solutions Rodolfo Ploder -- sold stock in the company totaling nearly $2 million in the days after the breach was discovered on July 29. These sales are now said to be under criminal scrutiny.

Read more here.

 

Tech: Google is offering to auction off spots in its search results to rival comparison shopping sites following a record $2.9 billion fine from the European Union, according to Reuters.

The fine came after Google was accused of favoring its own comparison service. The internet search giant is hoping that the remedy would bring it in line with the EU's order to alter its search practices to give equal weight to competitors.

Google made a similar proposal three years ago when it unsuccessfully tried to settle the EU's investigation.

A Google spokeswoman declined to comment.

Read more here.

 

Media: House Democrats are asking the Federal Communications Commission to investigate whether a Russian news network's U.S. broadcasts are violating the law by airing propaganda.

Reps. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) and Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) sent a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai on Monday asking him to look into whether the Sputnik radio news show is violating the public interest standard of its broadcast license.

"In Washington, D.C., listeners need only tune their radios to 105.5 FM to hear the Russian government's effort to influence U.S. policy," the members wrote. "Disturbingly, this means the Kremlin's propaganda messages are being broadcast over a license granted by the FCC."

An FCC spokesman declined to comment.

Read more here.

 

Transportation: Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerOvernight Health Care: Schumer calls for tying ObamaCare fix to children's health insurance | Puerto Rico's water woes worsen | Dems plead for nursing home residents' right to sue Crying on TV doesn't qualify Kimmel to set nation's gun agenda Trump knocks ‘fake’ news coverage of his trip to Puerto Rico MORE (D-N.Y.) is asking federal regulators to examine why gasoline prices have been slow to fall following two massive hurricanes.

Schumer on Sunday asked the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to watch for gasoline price gouging, which he said could contribute to high gasoline prices in his state after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Harvey, which barreled through an oil production and refining center in the Gulf of Mexico last month, brought a surge in gasoline prices. With refineries offline, prices are now $0.33 higher than they were before the storm, according to AAA.

Schumer said the FTC should consider why "short-term disruptions" like the storm have had a lingering impact on prices at the pump.

Read more here.

 

Finance: CitiFinancial Credit Co. has agreed to pay $907,000 to resolve allegations that CitiFinancial Auto Corp. illegally repossessed cars owned by active members of the military, the Department of Justice announced Monday.

The Justice Department claims CitiFinancial repossessed 164 cars without court orders in violation of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. The law protects service members against certain civil proceedings, including vehicle repossessions, during active military service.

The agency said in several cases, loan servicing notes indicated the company had been informed that the borrower was in the military or had received orders to report for military service and repossessed the vehicle anyway.

"The men and women who serve in the armed forces deserve to have us protect their backs while they selflessly protect us," said U.S. Attorney John Parker said in a statement. "This conduct clearly fell short of that and I'm grateful we were able to repair some of that harm."

Read more here.

 

Courts: Momentum is building in the Senate for doing away with an arcane rule that allows senators to block some of President Trump's judicial nominees.

The "blue-slip" rule -- a precedent upheld by Senate tradition -- allows a home-state senator to stop a lower-court nominee by refusing to return a sheet of paper, known as a blue slip, to the Judiciary Committee.

Conservatives have clamored for months to get rid of the rule, arguing Democrats are abusing the process to block qualified nominees.

They recently gained a powerful ally: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGun proposal picks up GOP support Children’s health-care bill faces new obstacles Dems see Trump as potential ally on gun reform MORE (R-Ky.), at least when it comes to picks for the U.S. courts of appeals.

"My personal view is that the blue slip, with regard to circuit court appointments, ought to simply be a notification of how you're going to vote, not the opportunity to blackball," McConnell told The New York Times.

Read more here.

 

ALSO IN THE NEWS

The New York Times: Facebook faces a new world as officials rein in a wild web

Business Insider: Tech industry consensus against internet regulation is crumbling

Bloomberg BNA: Fed official dismisses 'regulatory sandboxes' for fintech

Reuters: US push for self-driving law exposes regulatory divide

 

Send tips, story ideas and compliments to nelis@thehill.com and follow me on Twitter @NivElis.