Overnight Regulation: Ryan urges ATF to ban gun bump stocks | House bill overhauling power to declare monuments advances | Judge keeps Dakota pipeline open | FDA bans free e-cig samples | Pro-Trump group blasts electric grid plan

Overnight Regulation: Ryan urges ATF to ban gun bump stocks | House bill overhauling power to declare monuments advances | Judge keeps Dakota pipeline open |  FDA bans free e-cig samples | Pro-Trump group blasts electric grid plan
© Camille Fine

Welcome to Overnight Regulation, your daily rundown of news from the federal agencies, Capitol Hill, the courts and beyond. It's been a short week; it's Wednesday night, the Senate is out of session and the House is a day away from a weeklong recess.

 

THE BIG STORY

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanMcConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees House Republican: 'I worry about both sides' of the aisle on DACA Overnight Health Care: 3.6M signed up for ObamaCare in first month | Ryan pledges 'entitlement reform' next year | Dems push for more money to fight opioids MORE (R-Wis.) said Wednesday the Trump administration should move quickly to ban "bump stocks"-- a device used in the Las Vegas mass shooting that allows semi-automatic weapons to fire more rapidly.

"We think the regulatory fix is the smartest, quickest fix, and I'd frankly like to know how it happened in the first place," Ryan said at a news conference in the Capitol.

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While Democrats and a handful of Republicans are calling on Congress to pass legislation to ban "bump stocks," most Republicans, including Ryan, prefer the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to close the bump stock loophole and change the regulation.

Police say the suspected Las Vegas gunman, Stephen Paddock, had equipped a dozen of his weapons with bump stocks. The worst shooting in modern U.S. history left 58 people dead and more than 500 more injured.

Regulate or legislate? Those pushing for a legislative fix argue that congressional action is both more permanent and would allow for additional ATF funding to underwrite the agency's expanded responsibilities.

But a regulatory fix also gives congressional Republicans cover, so they don't have to hold a vote on something that could be construed by their base as gun control.

Pro-gun control advocates say something is better than nothing: "It would be better if Congress passed legislation ... but the goal here is to save people's lives," said Mark Kelly, a former Navy captain who founded Americans for Responsible Solutions with his wife, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), who was almost killed during a mass shooting at a constituent even in Tucson, Ariz., in 2011.

 

ON TAP FOR THURSDAY

The House Financial Services Committee holds an oversight hearing on the Department of Housing and Urban Development. HUD Secretary Ben CarsonBenjamin (Ben) Solomon CarsonVA slashes program that helps homeless veterans obtain housing: report Homelessness rises for first time since recession Moving the US embassy to Jerusalem is the right call MORE will testify.

The House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans will take up two bills, including one to amend the Endangered Species Act.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee holds a hearing on the Energy Department's "missions and management priorities." Energy Secretary Rick PerryJames (Rick) Richard PerryPerry pictured with falcon, sword during trek to Saudi Arabia Trump promised ‘best people’ would run government — they upended it US oil and gas boom will actually help spur energy revolution MORE will testify.

The House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications will hold a hearing to assess first responder communications networks and how to improve them.

 

REGULATORY ROUNDUP

Environment: A House panel on Wednesday approved a bill to reform a key federal conservation law, setting up a floor fight over the future of the president’s power to declare national monuments.

The House Natural Resources Committee approved the bill from Rep. Rob BishopRobert (Rob) William BishopRyan picks his negotiating team for tax cut bill Trump really will shrink government, starting with national monuments Five things to know about Trump's national monuments order MORE (R-Utah) to overhaul the century-old Antiquities Act in a 23-17 vote, sending it to the floor for consideration.

The bill would set new limits on the president’s ability to unilaterally preserve federal land and calls for more public input on potential new monument designations.

Bishop, the committee's chairman and a longtime critic of presidents’ national monuments power, said his bill would reform a law with “worthy intent” and “honest purposes.”

But he argued modern presidents have used the law to lock up too much federal land, taking away the potential for local citizens to use the land themselves.

Democrats have broadly opposed the legislation, and conservation organizations have vowed to fight Bishop’s bill as it moves through Congress.

Devin Henry has more here.

 

Energy: An energy policy think tank, whose political arm endorsed President Trump, is panning the administration's proposal to mandate higher payments to coal and nuclear power plants.

The Institute for Energy Research's Director of Policy Kenny Stein wrote Wednesday that the Department of Energy's proposal is "excessive and unnecessarily distortive."

The proposal, unveiled last month, asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to require that electric grid operators pay power plants for their costs plus a fair return, as long as the plants have at least 90 days of fuel on-site, a quality only possible in coal and nuclear plants.

The think tank's political arm, the American Energy Alliance, gave Trump  its first political endorsement last July.

Tom Pyle, head of both groups, led Trump's transition team for the Department of Energy, and some Trump political appointees at the Energy Department used to work for the groups.

Read Timothy Cama's story here.

 

Administration: President Trump could stand to personally profit from the regulations he's rolling back, according to a new report Wednesday.

Among those actions is the Environmental Protection Agency's proposal to repeal the Waters of the U.S. rule, which gives the agency the authority to prevent pollution in fresh water wetlands and streams.

Rep. David CicillineDavid Nicola CicillineOvernight Tech: FCC won't delay net neutrality vote | Google pulls YouTube from Amazon devices | Biden scolds social media firms over transparency Overnight Regulation: Senate tax bill to include ObamaCare mandate repeal | Sessions sidesteps questions on WH influence on AT&T merger | Dems seek more transparency on student borrower rule AT&T wants to probe Trump's role in Time Warner merger: report MORE (D-R.I.) and Rick Claypool, a research director in the president's office of the nonprofit Public Citizens, detailed six deregulatory actions Trump could financially benefit from given his refusal to fully divest from his business empire.

Lydia Wheeler has the full story here.

 

Environment: The Dakota Access pipeline can continue operating during a new federal review of the project's environmental impact, a federal judge ruled on Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg said he would not vacate a previous permit while federal regulators conduct a new environmental review into the 1,170-mile pipeline.

Boasberg in June ruled that the Army Corps of Engineers' review of the project was inadequate before it granted the permits necessary to build the pipeline, which transports oil near Native American reservations in North Dakota on its way to Illinois.

But in a 28-page ruling issued Wednesday, he said the deficiencies in that review “are not fundamental or incurable flaws” and that the corps has such a “significant possibility of justifying its prior determinations” that the pipeline can continue operating.

Read Devin Henry's full story here.

 

Technology: Two senators are pushing a robocaller to explain how he ran his operation, which was subject to the largest-ever fine handed down on the matter by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneMcConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees Overnight Health Care: 3.6M signed up for ObamaCare in first month | Ryan pledges 'entitlement reform' next year | Dems push for more money to fight opioids Dems push for more money for opioid fight MORE (R-S.D.) and Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranMcConnell works to salvage tax bill GOP in furious push for tax-reform votes Overnight Tech: Lawmakers want answers on Uber breach | Justices divided in patent case | Tech makes plea for net neutrality on Cyber Monday MORE (R-Kan.) sent a letter to Adrian Abramovich on Wednesday, asking him to explain how his robocalling operation worked and what he's doing to mitigate any harm he may have caused.

In June, the FCC fined Abramovich $122 million for his robocall company, which allegedly conducted almost 100 million illegal automated calls attempting to lure individuals into buying vacation packages and timeshares.

Ali Breland has the story here.

 

Health care: Free samples of electronic cigarettes will be banned a guidance finalized Wednesday by the Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA said in the 10-page guidance document that its ban on free samples of tobacco products applies to any tobacco product that is subject to FDA regulation, including components and parts of tobacco products like "e-liquids" and the refillable cartridges for electronic cigarettes.

The agency finalized the regulation banning free samples in March 2010. At the time, the rule only applied to cigarettes, including roll-your-own tobacco; cigarette tobacco; and smokeless tobacco products, but the agency extended its authority to regulate all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, in August 2016.

Lydia Wheeler has more here.

 

Environment: A four-year plan for President Trump's EPA contains no mention of the words "climate change."

The 38-page document, released for public comment last week, does not include the phrases "climate change," "carbon dioxide" or "greenhouse gas emissions," according to CNN.

This is in stark contrast to President Obama's 80-page plan, which listed "Addressing Climate Change and Improving Air Quality" as one of its central goals, and referenced climate change more than 40 times.

Avery Anapol has more here.

 

Health care: Senate Democrats are calling on the National Institutes of Health to renew recently-lapsed funding for gun violence research following the Las Vegas concert shooting.

In a letter to NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins, Democratic Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenOvernight Regulation: Net neutrality supporters predict tough court battle | Watchdog to investigate EPA chief's meeting with industry group | Ex-Volkswagen exec gets 7 years for emissions cheating Overnight Tech: Net neutrality supporters predict tough court fight | Warren backs bid to block AT&T, Time Warner merger | NC county refuses to pay ransom to hackers Avalanche of Democratic senators say Franken should resign MORE (Mass.), Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyAvalanche of Democratic senators say Franken should resign Senate passes tax overhaul, securing major GOP victory Dem senator compares GOP tax bill to unicorns, Tupac conspiracy theories MORE (Conn.), and 21 others joined Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersSchumer: Franken should resign Franken resignation could upend Minnesota races Avalanche of Democratic senators say Franken should resign MORE (I-Vt.) in saying that it is critical to continue the program.

"With 93 Americans dying per day from gun-related fatalities, it is critical that NIH dedicate a portion of its resources to the public health consequences of gun violence," the senators wrote.

I have more details here.

 

Environment: Billionaire philanthropist Michael Bloomberg is making a new $64 million commitment to environmental groups’ efforts to shut down coal-fired power plants and replace them with cleaner forms of electricity generation.

The media mogul and former New York City mayor made the announcement Wednesday at the Washington, D.C., office of the Sierra Club. The group's Beyond Coal campaign is getting $30 million of the money, with the rest going to the League of Conservation Voters and others.

Bloomberg's announcement comes a day after President Trump started the process of rolling back the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan.

Timothy Cama has more here.

 

ELSEWHERE IN THE NEWS:

Power companies to stick with plans despite EPA's emissions repeal (The Wall Street Journal)

FDA wants closer look at health claims on packaging (The Wall Street Journal)

FAA's panel fails to agree on need for drone security measures (Bloomberg)

T-Mobile, Sprint deal likely opposed by DOJ staff: sources (Reuters)

 

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