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

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
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Welcome to Overnight Regulations, your daily rundown of news from the federal agencies, Capitol Hill and the courts. It's Thursday evening here in Washington where House Republicans just passed a sweeping tax bill.

Read about that here

 

THE BIG STORY 

In the wake of a deadly mass shooting in Texas last month, a bipartisan group of Senators have unveiled a plan to strengthen the background check system by incentivizing states to send records to the National Instant Background Check System (NICS), which records if a person is prohibited from buying a gun. 

As Jordain Carney reports, the bill offered by Sens. John CornynJohn CornynMcConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees Air Force makes criminal reporting changes after Texas massacre We need a better pathway for allowing civilians to move guns across state lines MORE (R-Texas), 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 (D-Conn.), Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottMcConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees GOP senator: Trump shouldn't pardon Flynn Trump should fill CFPB vacancy with Export-Import chief MORE (R-S.C.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) would block bonus pay for political appointees in agencies that fail to upload records to the background check system and would reward states that follow through on implementation plans.

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"For years agencies and states haven't complied with the law, failing to upload these critical records without consequence. ... This bill aims to help fix what's become a nationwide, systemic problem so we can better prevent criminals and domestic abusers from obtaining firearms," Cornyn said in a statement.

Murphy added that "this deal will strengthen the background check system and save lives. Our bill marks an important milestone that shows real compromise can be made on the issue of guns."

Read the full story here

 

REG ROUNDUP 

Technology: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Thursday voted to roll back restrictions on media ownership, a proposal that critics say is helping to pave the way for a controversial merger and further consolidation in the industry.

The commission's party-line vote clears the way for the common ownership of newspapers and broadcast stations in the same market. The proposal also eliminates a rule that prohibited television stations in the same market from merging if such a deal would leave less than eight different stations in that market.

The move has incensed critics, who see it as part of Republican FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's efforts to benefit the Sinclair Broadcast Group, which is awaiting approval from the agency for its purchase of Tribune Media. The $3.9 billion deal that would let the combined company access 72 percent of the country's television audience.

Harper Neidig has the story here

 

Environment: Two Republican senators said Wednesday that they won't support President Trump's nominee to lead the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) chemical safety office.

The opposition from North Carolina Sens. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisGOP and Dems bitterly divided by immigration Grassley offers DACA fix tied to tough enforcement measures We are running out of time to protect Dreamers MORE and Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrSessions argued presidents can obstruct justice in Clinton impeachment trial Trump Jr. to meet with Senate panel amid Russia probe Trump’s Russian winter grows colder with Flynn plea deal MORE puts Michael Dourson's nomination in danger. If one more Republican votes against him, he likely wouldn't be confirmed to the post.

Even before Tillis's and Burr's opposition, Dourson was one of Trump's most polarizing nominees. Democrats and environmentalists saw him as a lackey for the chemical industry who, for years, was paid to underplay the harms of various chemicals. 

The opposition from the North Carolina senators, first reported by the Wilmington, N.C., Star News, stems from a pair of major health controversies in the state surrounding water contamination at the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and the recent discovery of the as-yet-unregulated chemical GenX in the Cape Fear River. The senators do not believe Dourson would be an effective force to protect the victims of those incidents.

Timothy Cama has the story here

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight 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 Study: ObamaCare bills backed by Collins would lower premiums Right scrambles GOP budget strategy MORE (R-Maine) also said she is "leaning against" voting for Trump's nominee. More on that from Timothy Cama here.

 

Business: Republicans have added a tax credit to a modified version of the Senate tax bill, which aims to incentivize businesses to offer paid family and medical leave. 

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchMcConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees Ryan pledges 'entitlement reform' in 2018 Utah governor calls Bannon a 'bigot' after attacks on Romney MORE (R-Utah) included in his "modified mark" a proposal from Sen. Deb FischerDebra (Deb) Strobel FischerUS trade deficit rises on record imports from China Flake, GOP senators to meet with Trump on trade Senate nixes provision boosting conservative college after uproar MORE (R-Neb.) to give businesses offering full-time employees at least two weeks of paid family and medical leave each year a general business credit equal to 12.5 percent of the amount of wages they pay an employee if the employee is getting at least 50 percent of their normal wages.

The tax credit increases by 0.25 percent for every percentage point the employer pays beyond the 50 percent wage replacement. The tax credit, however, maxes out at 25 percent.

Find that story here

 

Environment: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight 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 Energy: Watchdog probes Pruitt speech to mining group | EPA chief promises to let climate scientists present their work | Volkswagen manager gets 7 years for emissions cheating Scott Pruitt's year of environmental destruction MORE will head to Capitol Hill next month to testify at a hearing on the agency's agenda.

The hearing announced Wednesday by the House Energy and Commerce Committee's environment sub-panel is Pruitt's first congressional oversight hearing since he took the helm at the agency in February, though he has testified at appropriations hearings.

The announcement comes amid bipartisan pressure for Pruitt to come to Capitol Hill, nine months into his tenure.

Timothy Cama again with the story here

 

Finance: Democrats in both chambers unveiled legislation on Thursday designed to protect workers whose retirement pensions are threatened with deep cuts in the coming years.

Sponsored by Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownThe Hill's 12:30 Report Avalanche of Democratic senators say Franken should resign Overnight Regulation: Feds push to clarify regs on bump stocks | Interior wants Trump to shrink two more monuments | Navajo Nation sues over monument rollback | FCC won't delay net neutrality vote | Senate panel approves bill easing Dodd-Frank rules MORE (D-Ohio) and Rep. Richard NealRichard Edmund NealPelosi denounces GOP tax reform as 'armageddon' Dems stop short of demanding Conyers step down from powerful committee Overnight Finance: House passes sweeping tax bill in huge victory for GOP | Senate confirms banking regulator | Mulvaney eyed for interim head of consumer agency MORE (D-Mass.), the proposal aims to prop up struggling multi-employer pension plans they say could sink the retirement security of more than 1 million workers across the country, largely within the next decade.

Cuts to those pensions, the Democrats argue, would break the contractual promises made to workers that their pension payments would provide retirement security -- and be untouchable.

Mike Lillis has the story here

 

Health care: The Senate on Thursday passed by unanimous consent a bill to speed up Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of medical devices and drugs to be used on the battlefield.

The bill is meant to address a controversial provision of the annual defense policy bill passed by the House on Tuesday that would allow the Pentagon to sign off on unapproved devices and drugs. The Senate passing the bill on medical approvals means it will soon be able to take up the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Despite passing that measure on Tuesday, the House wouldn't officially send over the defense bill until the Senate approves the separate medical bill.

The Pentagon and its advocates in Congress have been frustrated by the FDA's slow approval of certain treatments they say could save lives on the battlefield.

Rebecca Kheel has more here.

 

Tech: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted on Thursday to let phone service providers proactively block robocalls from fraudulent numbers.

The proposal was approved unanimously, with commissioners of both parties hailing it as a necessary step to protect consumers.

"These calls are very likely to be illegal or fraudulent; there's no legitimate reason for anyone to spoof caller ID to make it seem as if he or she is calling from an unassigned or invalid phone number," FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement.

Service providers will now be able to block calls from numbers with certain signs that indicate that they're fraudulent. For example, companies will be able to proactively block calls from numbers with area codes that don't exist or that can't make outgoing calls.

Harper Neidig has more here.

 

Finance: The Senate on Thursday confirmed former bank executive Joseph Otting to be comptroller of the currency, the top federal banking watchdog.

Otting was confirmed by a 54-to-43 vote largely along party lines. Sens. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinTrump rips Dems a day ahead of key White House meeting Senate panel moves forward with bill to roll back Dodd-Frank Wealthy outsiders threaten to shake up GOP Senate primaries MORE (W.Va.) and Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampThe Hill's 12:30 Report Avalanche of Democratic senators say Franken should resign Senate panel moves forward with bill to roll back Dodd-Frank MORE (N.D.) were the only Democrats to support him. Otting will replace acting Comptroller Keith Noreika, who has filled the role since May.

Otting was the president and CEO of OneWest Bank, where he worked with Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinMark Mellman: History’s judgment Trump's motorcade greeted with chants of 'lock him up' in NYC Treasury watchdog probes lack of tax plan analysis from Mnuchin MORE, and a vice chairman at U.S. Bancorp before that. He presided over hundreds of thousands of foreclosures at OneWest Bank, which has been investigated for multiple federal and state housing violations.

Otting will help implement the Trump administration's plans to tailor aspects of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law long protested by banks. Noreika started the process of reviewing the "Volcker rule" on proprietary trading for changes, which Otting will likely continue.

Sylvan Lane has more here.

 

Tech: AT&T is hiring media lawyer Daniel Petrocelli to serve as its lead trial counsel in case the Justice Department files a lawsuit to block a potential merger with Time Warner.

Petrocelli, a partner at the firm O'Melveny & Myers in Los Angeles, has previously worked for clients including Disney and President Trump, whom he defended in fraud lawsuits over the Trump University real estate training program.

An AT&T spokesperson confirmed the hiring to The Hill.

The DOJ is reportedly considering a lawsuit to stop the $85 billion deal between AT&T and Time Warner.

Read more from Ali Breland here.

 

Hunting: The Trump administration is reversing an Obama administration ban on bringing to the United States the heads of elephants killed in two African countries.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) said it has determined that hunting African elephants in Zimbabwe and Zambia “will enhance the survival of the species in the wild,” which is the standard by which officials judge whether to allow imports of parts — known as trophies — of the animals.

“Legal, well-regulated sport hunting as part of a sound management program can benefit the conservation of certain species by providing incentives to local communities to conserve the species and by putting much-needed revenue back into conservation,” an FWS spokesman said in a statement late Wednesday after hunting group Safari Club International announced the policy.

Imports will be allowed for elephants killed between Jan. 21 and the end of 2018.

Read more from Timothy Cama here.

 

IN OTHER NEWS 

Meet the powerful group behind Trump's judicial nominations - The Hill

Interior watchdog says Zinke did not properly document his travel - The Hill

We have an opioid overdose crisis, but cigarettes still kill 15 times more people - Vox 

HHS pick at odds with Trump's rhetoric on drug prices - Roll Call 

Feds arrest more than 200 MS 13 gang members - The Washington Examiner 

Grassley rips up 'blue slip' for a pair of Trump court picks - Politico


Send tips and story ideas to Overnight host at lwheeler@thehill.com and follow her on Twitter @wheelerlydia.