Week ahead: House weighs drone regulations

House Republicans are zeroing in on Obama administration policies restricting the use of unmanned commercial aircraft.

Top officials from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Department of Transportation will testify Wednesday before the House Transportation Committee about the status of pending regulations for commercial drones.

{mosads}Pressure is mounting from the GOP and the business community for the FAA to approve the use of commercial drones, though, Republicans acknowledge the need to address certain safety and privacy issues.

Online retailers like Amazon say it could revolutionize the way they deliver products to customers. Amazon has been one of the top proponents of commercial drones.

Meanwhile, real estate agents, farmers, oil companies, Hollywood filmmakers, sports teams, and security firms are all clamoring for the use of drones.

Industry groups say their competitors in other countries have a step up on them when it comes to using drones.

“We want to make sure these things are integrated safely, but we don’t want to fall behind,” a Republican staffer told The Hill.

In other news, the House Oversight Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday looking into the Environmental Protection Agency’s renewable fuel standards (RFS).

Republicans and business groups are upset that the year is almost over and the EPA still has not released the standard for 2014, let alone 2015.

The RFS requires companies to mix a certain amount of renewables into their fuels.

The Senate Judiciary’s Crime and Terrorism Subcommittee will hold a hearing next week to discuss sexual assaults on college campuses and the role and responsibility of law enforcement in handling these crimes.

In October, the Department of Education created uniform reporting standards for sexual violence on college campuses, strengthening the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy.

In an event on Monday, the Law & Economics Center at George Mason University School of Law plans to discuss how non-prosecution and deferred prosecution agreements impact corporations.

In a news release, GMU said these agreements create new regulations and force companies to pay billions of dollars in fines.

“Attorneys working for the federal government are essentially remaking entire industries without clear legal authorization, public transparency and minimal to no judicial oversight,” the release said. “Such arrangements have become so commonplace some experts have characterized them as a “shadow regulatory state” over business.”

As conservatives attack the president’s executive order, which grants amnesty to 5 million illegal immigrants, the Senate Judiciary Committee will meet again on Wednesday to further discuss the need for comprehensive immigration reform.

GOP-lawmakers have been attacking the presidential action with proposed lawsuits, threats to pull funding and bills aimed at keeping federal benefits like Social Security cards out of immigrants’ reach.

The Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday to discuss the enforcement of current and future derivatives regulations from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act created standardized derivatives for open trade. The hearing will discuss what CFTC needs to do to complete its responsibilities under Dodd-Frank to ensure a strong, transparent and safe market place.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee will meet on Wednesday to examine the Food and Drug Administration’s role in regulating genetically modified food.

Though the FDA rolled out new menu labeling requirements late last month forcing restaurants, grocery stores and vending machines to list the total number of calories in foods, the agency said in March it wasn’t ready to issue mandatory labeling regulations for foods made with genetically engineered ingredients.

In a joint meeting on Thursday, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will discuss the implications of the executive order President Obama issued in August to improve safety and security at chemical plants.

The action was in response to a deadly blast in April at a Texas fertilizer plant. Obama is requiring agencies to take steps to improve safety at plants that store danger chemicals like ammonium nitrate.


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