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



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 CornynWhite House officials expect short-term funding bill to avert shutdown Spending bill delay raises risk of partial government shutdown support GOP leaders to Trump: Leave Mueller alone MORE (R-Texas), Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyOvernight Defense: Senate sides with Trump on military role in Yemen | Dem vets push for new war authorization on Iraq anniversary | General says time isn't 'right' for space corps Senate sides with Trump on providing Saudi military support Senate, Trump clash over Saudi Arabia MORE (D-Conn.), Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottSenators demand cyber deterrence strategy from Trump CNN's Bakari Sellers: Democratic leadership is 'old and stale' Politicians, faith leaders react to passing of Billy Graham 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.


"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



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 leaders to Trump: Leave Mueller alone North Carolina GOP previously hired Cambridge Analytica: report Senate GOP: Legislation to protect Mueller not needed MORE and Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrOvernight Cybersecurity: Zuckerberg breaks silence on Cambridge Analytica | Senators grill DHS chief on election security | Omnibus to include election cyber funds | Bill would create 'bug bounty' for State Omnibus to include election cybersecurity funds Overnight Cybersecurity: Senate Intel releases election security findings | Facebook to meet with officials on Capitol Hill amid Cambridge Analytica fallout | Orbitz admits possible breach 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 CollinsCollins: 'Extremely disappointing' ObamaCare fix left out of spending deal Overnight Cybersecurity: Zuckerberg breaks silence on Cambridge Analytica | Senators grill DHS chief on election security | Omnibus to include election cyber funds | Bill would create 'bug bounty' for State GOP lawmakers blast Dems for opposing ObamaCare fix 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 HatchOmnibus includes search-and-seize provision New kid on the tech block Senate GOP: Legislation to protect Mueller not needed MORE (R-Utah) included in his "modified mark" a proposal from Sen. Deb FischerDebra (Deb) Strobel FischerBill to bolster gun background checks gains enough support to break filibuster Senate Republicans call on Trump to preserve NAFTA US trade deficit rises on record imports from China 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: Groups sue over decision to end pay-data rule | EU proposes tax on tech companies | Sessions issues memo on death penalty for drug cases | Pruitt spent 5K on first class flights Overnight Energy: EPA says Pruitt's security detail flies first class | Lackluster offshore drilling sales | Oil companies snag leases near Bears Ears monument EPA: Pruitt's security detail flies first class 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 BrownDemocratic senator: People don’t know what’s going on between Trump and Putin Power struggle threatens to sink bank legislation Pension committee must deliver on retirement promise MORE (D-Ohio) and Rep. Richard NealRichard Edmund NealRepublicans open to targeted China tariffs despite steel flap Pension committee must deliver on retirement promise Trade adviser ascends in Trump White House 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) ManchinWashington VIPs gather to celebrate Mark Penn's new book Overnight Defense: Senate sides with Trump on military role in Yemen | Dem vets push for new war authorization on Iraq anniversary | General says time isn't 'right' for space corps Senate sides with Trump on providing Saudi military support MORE (W.Va.) and Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampKoch-backed group launches six-figure ad buy against Heitkamp Overnight Defense: Senate sides with Trump on military role in Yemen | Dem vets push for new war authorization on Iraq anniversary | General says time isn't 'right' for space corps Senate sides with Trump on providing Saudi military support 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 MnuchinWhite House race to replace Hope Hicks has two lead contenders Overnight Finance: Congress struggles to strike funding deal as deadline nears | Immigration, ObamaCare, Gateway project divide lawmakers | FTC to probe Facebook | Mnuchin plays hardball on tariffs White House signals commitment to push for expanded online sales tax collections 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.



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.