Overnight Regulation

Overnight Regulation: NRA gives ground on bump stocks | Consumer agency issues payday lending rule | Feds weigh changes to sage grouse plan | Ex-lobbyist tapped for EPA No. 2

Welcome to Overnight Regulation, your daily rundown of news from the federal agencies, Capitol Hill, the courts and beyond. It's Thursday night, and new this afternoon is the upcoming resignation from Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.), to be effective Oct. 21. The announcement follows a report this week suggesting he urged a woman he was having an affair with to have an abortion.  

 

THE BIG STORY

Bump stocks have received heavy criticism following the deadliest shooting in U.S. history.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) on Thursday broke its silence after Sunday's Las Vegas shooting and called for additional regulations on bump stocks, which allow semi-automatic guns to fire hundreds of rounds per minute.

This is big because the NRA is traditionally one of the most powerful special interest groups in Washington and almost always opposes proposals to strengthen gun control laws or regulations.

But with rising support in both parties for reviewing and possibly restricting bump stocks, the gun rights group is taking a cautious approach.

"The NRA believes that devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations," NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre and executive director of the NRA Institute for Legislative Action Chris Cox said in a joint statement.

Stephen Paddock, the gunman who killed at least 58 people at a country music concert in Las Vegas over the weekend, was found dead on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel. Inside the room, where Paddock had been firing on the crowd, police found 12 rifles outfitted with bump stocks.

Read Alexander Bolton and Scott Wong's piece here.

 

REGULATORY ROUNDUP

Finance: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released a long-anticipated rule Thursday that's meant to protect short-term, high-interest loan customers from being trapped with debt.

The CFPB's action targets lenders that offer small loans with short payback timeframes and interest rates, often called "payday" loans. Such loans, which sometimes use car titles as collateral, are often used by low-income customers in need of extra money to cover basic expenses.

The CFPB's rule is the final step of a years-long effort to hold payday and car title lenders to stricter standards that could hamper much of the industry. CFPB Director Richard Cordray called the rule "a stop to the payday debt traps that have plagued communities across the country.

What the rule does: It creates new restrictions and standards for small-dollar lenders before they offer loans. Lenders will have to confirm that customers could afford to pay off any lump sum loan, plus all fees, within two weeks. Customers would have to be able to afford the highest monthly payments for longer-term loans.

The Hill's Sylvan Lane reports.

More finance: The Senate on Thursday confirmed Randal Quarles to serve on the Federal Reserve's Board of Governors, where he'll oversee the central bank's financial regulation efforts.

Quarles, a top Treasury Department official under former President George W. Bush, will serve as the Fed's first vice chairman for supervision, a position created by the Dodd-Frank Act to bolster federal oversight of major banks.

Quarles is the first member of the Fed nominated by President Trump, who'll have several chances to reshape the central bank. Trump is currently mulling whether to replace Fed Board Chairwoman Janet Yellen when her term expires in February, and Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer is scheduled to leave the bank by the middle of October.

The Senate cleared Quarles 65-32, with 14 Democrats voting in favor his confirmation.

Read more here.

Courts: The NAACP will sue the Commerce Department for allegedly withholding records about its preparations for the 2020 Census.

The organization says the Commerce Department failed to respond to a Freedom of Information Act request before the deadline and is suing for immediate access to records.

The NAACP wants to know about the U.S. Census Bureau's plans for the 2020 Census, including records on hiring practices, digitization and the bureau's efforts to reach out to "hard-to-count" populations.

Brandon Carter has the story.

Environment: Trump tapped an ex-lobbyist for the Environmental Protection Agency's No. 2 job.

Trump picked Andrew Wheeler, a former lobbyist and senior Republican congressional staffer, to be the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) deputy administrator.

The White House announced the nomination Thursday afternoon.

Wheeler works at Faegre Baker Daniels Consulting, where his clients have included coal mining giant Murray Energy Corp. and uranium miner Energy Fuels Resources Inc.

Timothy Cama reports.

More environment: The Interior Department has begun the process of reconsidering and potentially revising a 2015 plan to protect the greater sage grouse, a Western bird that has seen its habitat dwindle.

The decision earned immediate criticism from those who charge that revisiting the plan means "pandering to a few large energy interests."

In a notice published Thursday, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) said it would review land use provisions in the federal sage grouse conservation plan, which limits new development on some of the sage grouse's range in 10 western states and defines ways to expand its habitat there.

More: BLM is also set to reverse an Obama administration effort to block mining on 10 million acres of land in six Western states. The ban was part of the administration's efforts to protect the sage grouse.

Devin Henry has the story.

Supreme Court: The Department of Justice has urged the Supreme Court to throw out the lower court rulings that blocked President Trump's 90-day travel ban.

The Supreme Court canceled oral arguments that were planned for Oct. 10 in two cases challenging the president's temporary ban on travelers from six majority-Muslim countries late last month after Trump issued new targeted travel restrictions on eight countries.

The court ordered the parties in the case to submit briefs by noon on Oct. 5 arguing whether the cases are now moot.

In it's 10-page brief, the DOJ said Trump's Sept. 24 order restricting travel by people from Chad, North Korea, Venezuela, Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Somalia confirms the challenges to the previous ban are moot because the court has held "that a case is moot when a challenged government regulation is replaced by one that is not substantially similar."

Read Lydia Wheeler's piece here.

Justice Department: Attorney General Jeff Sessions is reversing course on the Justice Department's policy that a 1964 civil rights law protects transgender individuals from discrimination.

In a memo to U.S. attorneys dated Wednesday and obtained by BuzzFeed, Sessions said that the Justice Department will no longer interpret Title VII of the Civil Rights Act to mean that the law's protections extend to discrimination based on gender identity.

"Title VII's prohibition on sex discrimination encompasses discrimination between men and women but does not encompass discrimination based on gender identity per se, including transgender status," Sessions wrote in the memo.

Max Greenwood reports.

 

ELSEWHERE IN THE NEWS

Trump opponents urge U.S. Supreme Court to rule on travel ban (Reuters)

Treasury watchdog finds Mnuchin's aircraft use violated no laws (The Wall Street Journal)

In targeting political groups, IRS crossed party lines (The New York Times)

 

Send tips, story ideas and good weekend hiking spots to rroubein@thehill.com and follow me on Twitter @rachel_roubein. 

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