Overnight Regulation: Antitrust fight brewing over beer merger

Welcome to OVERNIGHT REGULATION, your daily rundown of news from Capitol Hill and beyond. It's Wednesday evening here in Washington, where Jon Stewart made a trip to Capitol Hill to lobby lawmakers on extending healthcare benefits to 9/11 first responders. 

Here's what else is going on:

 

THE BIG STORY

The world's two largest beermakers are considering a $250 billion merger that could trigger antitrust investigations across the globe.

Anheuser-Busch InBev NV, the maker of Budweiser, announced Wednesday it is looking to take over rival SABMiller. Together, the two companies produce about 30 percent of the world's beer and control more than 70 percent of the U.S. market, according to reports.

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London-based SABMiller is the second-largest beermaker in the world, behind only the Belgium-based Anheuser-Busch. It brews more than 200 beers, including Miller and Coors.

SABMiller first announced the negotiations Wednesday morning.

The beermakers have not yet reached an agreement, but both acknowledged the discussions.

"AB InBev confirms that it has made an approach to SABMiller's Board of Directors regarding a combination of the two companies," Anheuser-Busch said in a statement. "AB InBev's intention is to work with SABMiller's Board toward a recommended transaction."

"There can be no certainty that this approach will result in an offer or agreement, or as to the terms of any such agreement," the company added.

 

ON TAP FOR THURSDAY

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will hold a hearing to discuss the nomination of Sarah Elizabeth Feinberg as administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration. http://1.usa.gov/1J6bRzr

The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on whether to withhold certain federal funding from sanctuary cities. http://1.usa.gov/1KSoLbI

The House Natural Resources Committee will meet to discuss the Environmental Protection Agency's Animas River spill. http://1.usa.gov/1UNwoVi

The House Small Business Committee will hold a hearing to discuss how Dodd-Frank is crippling small lenders and access to capital. http://1.usa.gov/1Ny1MBr

The House Committee on Foreign Affairs will hold a hearing to discuss challenges to religious freedom in the Americas. http://1.usa.gov/1grKxEP

The House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing to discuss how to stop places that provide abortions from receiving federal funding if they violate the law. http://1.usa.gov/1Ydg3bZ

 

TOMORROW'S REGS TODAY

The Obama administration will publish 156 new regulations, proposed rules, notices and other administration actions in Thursday's edition of the Federal Register.

--The Department of Defense (DOD) will issue new rules to protect military children who are in childcare.

The new childcare requirements will contain background checks for employees who work with children. The DOD estimates compliance could cost $10 million each year.

"Any conviction for a sex crime, an offense involving a child victim, or a drug felony, may be grounds for denying employment or for dismissal of an employee providing any of the services discussed above," the DOD wrote.

The rule goes into effect in 30 days. http://bit.ly/1McvGd1

--The Department of Energy (DOE) will delay new efficiency rules for small, large and very large air-cooled commercial package air conditioning and heating equipment.

The Energy Department's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy proposed new efficiency rules for these air conditioners in August, but is reopening the comment period to give the public more time to consider the changes.

The public has 15 days to comment. http://bit.ly/1iPJlwU

--The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will issue new rules for importing kiwi fruit from Chile.

The USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is adopting importation requirements intended to root out kiwi that is exposed to Brevipalpus chilensis.

"This rule allows for the safe importation of kiwi from Chile using mitigation measures other than fumigation with methyl bromide," the agency wrote.

The rule goes into effect in 30 days. http://bit.ly/1MrI2Rg

 

NEWS RIGHT NOW

Merger: The Justice Department on Wednesday gave the go ahead for the merger of Expedia and Orbitz, concluding that the deal is "unlikely to harm competition and consumers." http://bit.ly/1MrJRh7

Regulatory reform: Senate Republicans began weeding through "layer upon layer upon layer" of federal rules Wednesday during a regulatory reform hearinghttp://bit.ly/1MrJT8W

Chemicals: Environment, health and consumer groups are pushing Senate leaders to hold a vote on bipartisan legislation that would reform chemical safety laws. http://bit.ly/1ii06QN

School meals: Sen. Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsEPA exempts farms from reporting pollution tied to animal waste Conservatives spark threat of bloody GOP primaries Juan Williams: Anti-abortion extremism is on the rise MORE (R-Kan.) says he needs more time to finish writing legislation to reauthorize healthy-meal requirements for schools. http://bit.ly/1UVHa6N

Food waste: Agriculture Secretary Tom VilsackThomas James VilsackUSDA: Farm-to-school programs help schools serve healthier meals OVERNIGHT MONEY: House poised to pass debt-ceiling bill MORE announced a goal Wednesday to cut the amount of food that Americans waste by 50 percent by 2030. http://bit.ly/1KnDoNx

Healthcare: A new federal employee health insurance option will mean savings for some and higher costs for others, The Washington Post reports. http://wapo.st/1iPTGJ5

Insured: Some 10.4 percent of people in the U.S. were uninsured for the whole of 2014, the Census Bureau reported Wednesday, The Wall Street Journal reports. http://on.wsj.com/1KqNCBk

 

BY THE NUMBERS

$250 billion: The approximate size of the beer giant that would be created by a merger between the companies that make Budweiser and Miller.

70 percent: The amount of control the two companies have over the U.S. beer market.

30 percent: The amount of control the two companies have over the global market.

 

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"We've got an opportunity here for a historic win and it's time to make chemical safety for our kids a priority," Fred Krupp, executive director of the Environment Defense Action Fund, said Wednesday while urging Senate leaders to hold a vote on bipartisan legislation to reform the nation's chemical safety laws.

 

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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