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 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
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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. President Trump visited Las Vegas to meet with victims and first responders after the nation's worst mass-shooting.

 

THE BIG STORY

A Senate panel approved bipartisan legislation on Wednesday to pave the way for driverless cars, representing the latest congressional step to address the emerging technology.

After months of debate over whether to include trucks and buses in the measure, the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee agreed to advance a bill that would only remove certain obstacles for getting self-driving cars on the roads.

The measure, authored by Chairman John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneSenate panel approves GOP tax plan Republicans see rising Dem odds in Alabama Overnight Health Care: Nearly 1.5M sign up for ObamaCare so far | Schumer says Dems won't back ObamaCare deal if it's tied to tax bill | House passes fix to measure letting Pentagon approve medical treatments MORE (R-S.D.) and Sen. Gary PetersGary Charles PetersOvernight Finance: Trump calls for ObamaCare mandate repeal, cuts to top tax rate | Trump to visit Capitol Hill in tax reform push | CBO can't do full score before vote | Bipartisan Senate bill would ease Dodd-Frank rules Overnight Regulation: Bipartisan Senate bill would curb Dodd-Frank rules | Opioid testing rule for transport workers finalized | Google faces state antitrust probe | Dems want investigation into FCC chief Bipartisan Senate deal would curb Dodd-Frank rules MORE (D-Mich.), would help the car industry speed up the deployment and testing of autonomous vehicles by gradually waiving traditional automobile standards -- like steering wheels and brake pedals -- for up to 80,000 vehicles per manufacturer after three years.

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Was it easy? Even though the Senate bill advanced on a breezy, bipartisan vote, bill sponsors and their staff spent months sorting through thorny issues behind the scenes, even making last-minute technical changes until the early morning hours on Wednesday.

What's next?  The bill heads to the floor, where other senators may have an opportunity to offer amendments. It could come up for a vote in between the budget resolution and tax reform, Thune said.

Read Melanie Zanona's story with the details here.

 

ON TAP FOR THURSDAY

The House Financial Services Committee holds a hearing on the Equifax hack, with former CEO Richard Smith testifying. The hearing is at 9:15 a.m. at the Rayburn House Office Building, room 2128.

The House Energy and Commerce energy subcommittee holds a hearing on "Powering America: Consumer-Oriented Perspectives on Improving the Nation's Electricity Markets" at 10 a.m. in Rayburn room 2123.

 

REGULATORY ROUNDUP

Labor: Legislation to repeal an Obama-era National Labor Relations Board ruling that made companies and franchisors potentially liable for labor law violations committed by their subcontractors or franchisees advanced in the House on Tuesday, the Hill's Lydia Wheeler reports.  

The House Education and the Workforce Committee voted 23-17 to send the Save Local Business Act bill to the floor for a full vote.

The legislation would rescind the NLRB's 2015 ruling that redefined a joint-employer. The board ruled that a company is considered a joint-employer with a subcontractor if it has "indirect" control over the terms and conditions of employment or has the "reserved authority to do so."

Critics said the ruling was vague and would hurt business growth by spurring unnecessary lawsuits.

Read Lydia's story here.

 

Finance: The Treasury Department announced on Wednesday that it is planning to withdraw estate-tax rules proposed by the Obama administration that were widely opposed by GOP lawmakers and business groups.

The department in a report called the approach to the rule "unworkable."

President Trump ordered the report in April, instructing the Treasury Department to examine tax regulations issued on or after Jan. 1, 2016. In July, Treasury identified eight rules that it found to have an undue burden on taxpayers or add excessive complexity to tax laws.

Naomi Jagoda has more here

 

Finance: The conservative Wall Street Journal editorial board is urging President Trump to nominate an outsider to be the next chairman of the Federal Reserve.

In an editorial posted late Tuesday, the Journal implored Trump not to re-nominate current Chairwoman Janet Yellen or Fed Governor Jerome Powell, warning that they have "favored the affluent and done little or nothing for the real economy."

Instead, the Journal is pressing Trump to nominate one of three candidates they view as more in line with his campaign promises and worldview -- former Fed Governor Kevin Warsh, Stanford economist John Taylor or Glenn Hubbard, dean of Columbia University's business school.

Jonathan Easley has the story here.

 

Technology: The European Union is ordering Amazon to pay 250 million euros, or $294 million, in back taxes, saying that the company had been given improper tax breaks.

"Luxembourg gave illegal tax benefits to Amazon," Margrethe Vestager, the EU's competition chief, said in a statement Wednesday. "As a result, almost three quarters of Amazon's profits were not taxed. In other words, Amazon was allowed to pay four times less tax than other local companies subject to the same national tax rules."

The European Commission, the EU's enforcement branch, concluded after a three-year investigation that Luxembourg had allowed Amazon in 2003 to shift assets from a subsidiary that's subject to taxation to another that's not.

In a statement, Amazon denied that it had received "special treatment" from Luxembourg and insisted that it had followed the law.

Harper Neidig has the story here.

 

Energy: The Interior Department moved Wednesday toward an 18-month delay in implementing the Obama administration's rule to limit methane leaks from oil and natural gas drilling on federal land.

Under a proposal set to be published Thursday in the Federal Register, the key requirements for oil and gas drillers would be delayed until January 2019.

Interior's Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is using that time to decide whether to fully repeal the regulation.

Timothy Cama has the story here

 

Finance: The top Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday introduced a bill that would empower federal banking regulators to break up large banks that have records of customer abuse.

The bill from Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), called the Megabank Accountability and Consequences Act, would give regulators, including the Federal Reserve, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and comptroller of the currency, sweeping new powers over the largest U.S. banks.

Waters named Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, Citibank and Bank of America as several major banks that should broken up under the bill, which likely won't see action in the GOP-controlled House.

Waters's bill comes as Wells Fargo faces growing scrutiny over several sales scandals, including one that involves up to 3.5 million accounts opened without customer consent.

Sylvan Lane has more here.

 

Energy: Senate Democrats slammed President Trump's pick to be the nation's top chemical regulator at a Wednesday hearing, painting him as a hired gun for the industries he would regulate.

Michael Dourson, tapped to lead the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) chemical safety and pollution prevention office, has worked for the last two decades to conduct chemical risk research on behalf of clients including industry groups, companies and governments.

Democrats in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee repeatedly brought up instances when Dourson's organization, Toxicology Excellence for Risk Assessment, made far more industry-friendly findings on chemical exposure risks than the EPA, individual states or other authorities.

Timothy Cama has more here.

 

Technology: A federal financial watchdog is reportedly probing one of the most prominent digital currency trading platforms over a "flash crash" in ether, a popular cryptocurrency.

The crash in question hinges on a $12.5 million sell order for 39,300 ether issued on June 21, which caused the price of ether on the Global Digital Asset Exchange (GDAX), to fall from $317.81 to just 10 cents in less than a second.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) sent a letter to GDAX's owner, Coinbase, the Financial Times reported.

Ali Breland has the full story here.

 

Environment: A House GOP chairman is investigating the use of charter and military aircraft by Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeWhitefish stops work on Puerto Rico power grid over payment dispute Five things to know about the elephant trophies controversy Feinstein: 'Disgusting' Trump even considering lifting elephant trophy ban MORE.

Rep. Rob BishopRobert (Rob) William BishopOvernight Energy: Puerto Rico officials defend Whitefish deal before Congress | US wants level playing field at UN climate summit | House passes flood insurance overhaul GOP chairman cites ‘credibility gap’ in Puerto Rico recovery Lawyers warned Puerto Rico utility against Whitefish contract MORE (R-Utah), the chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, sent a letter late Tuesday with Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) asking for details on the use of various types of aircraft by the Trump administration official.

But the Republicans are also investigating how extensively Zinke's predecessors in the Obama administration -- Sally JewellSarah (Sally) Margaret JewellOvernight 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 GOP chairman probes Zinke’s charter plane use MORE and Ken Salazar -- used private and government planes.

The probe comes as multiple Trump Cabinet secretaries, such as Zinke and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittMy freedom is on the line to fight climate change, more will follow Sessions: DOJ prohibited from issuing guidance that creates new rules Overnight Regulation: Senators unveil bipartisan gun background check bill | FCC rolls back media regs | Family leave credit added to tax bill | Senate confirms banking watchdog MORE, are under scrutiny for their use of charter and military aircraft.

Timothy Cama has more here.

 

Opinion: And on The Hill's opinion pages, Jonathan Turley weighs in on the post-Las Vegas gun control debate. "Don't blame the gun lobby, blame the gun man for mass shootings." Read it here.

 

ELSEWHERE IN THE NEWS:

Trump EPA to propose repealing Obama climate regulation (Reuters)

The hand to hand combat to save payday lending (The Wall Street Journal)

SEC chair floats potential delay to data fund rules following hack (Reuters)

Regulator declares 'dead' moves to seize high frequency trading code (Financial Times)

 

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