Overnight Regulation: New rules target housing segregation

Welcome to OVERNIGHT REGULATION, your daily rundown of news from Capitol Hill and beyond. It's Wednesday evening here in Washington. Here's the latest.



The Obama administration issued contentious new housing regulations on Wednesday that are intended to diversify America's wealthier neighborhoods and gentrify poorer neighborhoods.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) long-awaited rule aims to end decades of deep-rooted segregation across the country.

HUD Secretary Julián Castro called for a "balanced approach" that brings affordable housing to more affluent areas while also taking steps to upgrade poorer areas with better schools, parks, libraries, grocery stores and transportation routes as part of the gentrification of those communities.


"Where a child grows up should not dictate where they end up," Castro told reporters. "Unfortunately, too many Americans find their dreams limited by where they come from."

HUD estimates the rule will cost local communities $25 million each year to comply with, while the agency will spend another $9 million annually overseeing the process.

The regulations have attracted criticism from Republicans who accuse the Obama administration of unwarranted social engineering.

Rep. Paul GosarPaul Anthony GosarTrump administration signals support for uranium mining that could touch Grand Canyon Trump administration signals support for uranium mining that could touch Grand Canyon House conservatives want information on TSA policies for undocumented immigrants MORE (R-Ariz.) decried the regulations as "President Obama's most aggressive attempt yet to force his utopian ideology on American communities disguised under the banner of 'fairness.'"

He accused HUD of "punishing neighborhoods that don't fall in line with [Obama's] liberal agenda."

Under the new housing discrimination rules, HUD will provide communities with local and regional information about "segregated living patterns" and "racially or ethnically concentrated areas of poverty" that must be addressed.

HUD will then use grant money as an incentive for these communities to become more diverse and "expand equal access to opportunity for all Americans."

HUD says the previous housing rules were not effective at preventing segregation around the country.

The Fair Housing Act of 1968 prohibited direct and intentional housing discrimination, such as a real estate agent not showing a home in a wealthy neighborhood to a black family or a bank not providing a loan based on someone's race.

But HUD is now looking to root out more subtle forms of discrimination that take shape in local government policies that unintentionally harm minority communities, known as "disparate impact."

"Racially-concentrated areas of poverty exist in virtually every metropolitan area," HUD notes in the rule. "Disparities in access to important community assets prevail in many instances." http://bit.ly/1NTODkX



The House Agriculture Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Subcommittee will hold a hearing to discuss oversight and accountability of U.S. International Food Aid Programs. http://1.usa.gov/1H3DMA6

The House Science, Space and Technology Committee will hold a hearing to examine EPA's regulations. http://1.usa.gov/1IOKwlA

The House Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing looking at the five years of the Dodd-Frank Act. http://1.usa.gov/1LVaqdE



The Obama administration will publish 136 new regulations, proposed rules, notices, and other administrative actions in Thursday's edition of the Federal Register.

Here's what to watch for:

--The Department of Energy (DOE) will propose new energy conservation standards for commercial pre-rinse spray valves.

The Energy Department's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy estimates the new efficiency rules will cost manufacturers about $2 million and take a 20 percent bite out of the spray valve industry.

Consumers could save as much as $1.4 billion under the new rules.

The public has 60 days to comment. http://bit.ly/1LSyQUp

--The DOE will propose new efficiency rules for light-emitting diodes, better known as LED lamps.

The proposed efficiency regulations from the Energy Department's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy include new test procedures for measuring lumen output, input power, lamp efficacy, correlated color temperature, color rendering index (CRI), power factor, and lifetime and standby mode power, according to the agency.

The test procedures will be used to implement new labeling provisions.

The public has 30 days to comment. http://bit.ly/1KU84dg

--The Coast Guard will propose new safety regulations for sailing in ice-covered waters.

The Coast Guard is looking to expand its authority to enforce safety restrictions on certain ships.

"This action is necessary to promote navigational safety, provide for the safety of life and property, and facilitate the reasonable demands of commerce," the agency wrote.

The public has 90 days to comment. http://bit.ly/1LX2N6t

--Financial regulators will review some of their regulations for possible removal.

This includes the Treasury Department, Federal Reserve, and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. http://bit.ly/1goKfiB



Gender-neutral: Now that same-sex marriage is legal throughout the country, House lawmakers want the federal code to reflect marriage equality with gender-neutral terms. http://bit.ly/1Hc8kzI

US Chamber of Commerce: Senate Democrats want the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to stop lobbying against anti-smoking regulations. http://bit.ly/1UBKh6B

Pot: An unlikely pair of lawmakers is seeking to promote government research of marijuana. http://bit.ly/1JUA0MO

Background checks: Democrats are making a new push for background checks on gun purchasers following the shooting in Charleston, S.C. that killed nine people at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. http://bit.ly/1LSsmES

E-cigs: Republicans blocked an amendment Wednesday that would have removed a provision from a spending bill exempting electronic cigarettes and other products from the Food and Drug Administration's pre-market review process. http://bit.ly/1JUvFcp

Cameras: The Obama administration says it's drafting rules to require that railroads install video cameras inside locomotive cabs to record the actions of engineers, following the deadly Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia, the AP reports. http://bit.ly/1MfM8bz

End-of-life planning: Medicare is now proposing to reimburse doctors who engage in end-of-life planning with patients, The New York Times reports. http://nyti.ms/1HgxHT9

Student debt: The Education Department will formally propose rules Wednesday to expand eligibility for a program called Pay As You Earn, which sets student loan borrowers' monthly payments as a small share of their income, The Wall Street Journal reports. http://on.wsj.com/1eFud2L



2.4 million: The number of gun purchases that have been blocked since the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act took effect in 1994.



"They clearly want to Manhattanize the suburbs," -- Hans von Spakovsky, a fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation, said of the housing rules intended to diversify wealthy neighborhoods.


We'll work to stay on top of these and other stories throughout the week, so check The Hill's Regulation page (http://thehill.com/regulation) early and often for the latest. And send any comments, complaints or regulatory news tips our way, tdevaney@thehill.com or lwheeler@thehill.com. And follow us at @timdevaney and@wheelerlydia.

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