Overnight Regulation: Government watchdog shuts down

Welcome to Overnight Regulation, a daily rundown of news from the federal agencies, Capitol Hill and beyond. It's Monday evening here in Washington and after several amazing upsets, our NCAA brackets are toast. Buzzer-beaters like Northern Iowa's half-court shot in Friday night's game against Texas is why they call it March Madness. Good luck to anyone who's still in the running. 

Here's the latest. 

 

THE BIG STORY

A long-time regulatory watchdog is calling it quits.

The Center for Effective Government, formerly known as OMB Watch, is shutting down after three decades of promoting accountability in the rulemaking process. Allies such as Public Citizen and the Project on Government Oversight will absorb the remnants of the organization.

The sudden death of the Center for Effective Government is due to a fundraising gap, sources say, leaving a void in the community of good-government groups who feel outgunned by business interests in Washington.

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"It's sad," said Gary Bass, the founder and former executive director of OMB Watch. "We were a band of Davids going up against Goliaths. No one else did that sort of thing, and that will be missed."

The Center for Effective Government, which closed on March 4, will pass along many of its resources to the Project on Government Oversight in an effort to preserve its work, according to a letter from board chairman Dianne Stewart to staffers and donors. The resources include email lists and a website with graphics and dozens of reports on regulatory deficiencies. 

Founded in 1983, OMB Watch enjoyed a unique role among government watchdogs. It focused on the nuts and bolts of the regulatory process, but was seen by some as an "inside-the-Beltway" organization that had little appeal to those outside of Washington.

"We helped the public understand the rulemaking process, so they could get involved," Bass told The Hill.

The closing of the Center for Effective Government will leave a "hole in the regulatory watchdog space," one former staffer said.

"There just aren't enough people doing this work," said Katherine McFate, the most recent executive director of the Center for Effective Government, who left the organization in January. 

"It's very easy for conservative anti-government actors to say, 'Oh, government has too many regulations and its costing jobs,' and people believe it," she said. 

Read the rest of the story in tomorrow's paper and online at TheHill.com.

 

ON TAP FOR TUESDAY 

The House Committee on the Education and the Workforce will hold a hearing on strengthening education research and privacy protections to better serve students. http://1.usa.gov/1pvODR2

The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology will hold a hearing on the oversight of the Federal Communications Commission. http://1.usa.gov/1Ms9YA7

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold a hearing on the heroin and opioid abuse epidemic. http://1.usa.gov/1MeI3c9

The Senate is out this week. 

 

TOMORROW'S REGS TODAY

The Obama administration will publish 205 new regulations, proposed rules, notices and other administrative actions in Tuesday's edition of the Federal Register.

--The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) will fix mistakes made in a rule for interstate natural gas pipelines.

The FERC issued new business practice standards for interstate pipelines in November, but is now correcting the rule.

The correction goes into effect immediately. http://bit.ly/1U1Vu1L

--The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will propose to ban powdered surgeon's gloves.

The FDA says that powdered gloves "present an unreasonable or substantial risk" to patients.

"Consequently, FDA is proposing these devices be banned," the agency writes.

The public has 90 days to comment. http://bit.ly/1Mjr2xv

--The Department of the Interior will propose new rules for development of the outer continental shelf.

The Interior Department's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management proposed Monday new rules for the use of "sand, gravel and shell resources for shore protection, beach restoration, or coastal wetlands restoration."

The public has 60 days to comment. http://bit.ly/22zAnFt

--The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will exempt three-dozen truck drivers from vision requirements that would otherwise prohibit them from operating commercial motor vehicles. http://bit.ly/1RfKpo5

The FMCSA will also renew exemptions from the vision requirement for another 66 truck drivers. http://bit.ly/1RwdfzQ

Many of these truck drivers fail the vision requirement, because they are blind in one eye. 

The FMCSA has determined that their vision in the other eye is strong enough to "provide a level of safety that is equivalent to or greater than" that which is expected for truck drivers.

 

NEWS RIGHT NOW

Supreme Court overturns stun gun ban. http://bit.ly/1Zl4EWE

Supreme Court wades into Apple's patent dispute with Samsung. http://bit.ly/1Rvsoro

Supreme Court weighs legality of Virginia redistricting http://bit.ly/1RdSN9Q

Dem wants Wall Street tipsters out in the open. http://bit.ly/1U1Y2x5

Obama's top climate envoy stepping down. http://bit.ly/1UfZrjR

FDA wants to ban doctors' powdered gloves. http://bit.ly/1UfZb4x

Booking.com to offer hotel reservations in Cuba. http://bit.ly/22spMzx

Sanders's tax plan ranks highest with public. http://bit.ly/1UyjeKN
Inside Merrick Garland's judicial record. http://bit.ly/1S1mW9Y

McConnell tells states to stop planning for EPA rule http://bit.ly/1RbimK2

 

BY THE NUMBERS 

77 percent: How many think Republicans are "playing politics" by not allowing President Obama's Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland to get a hearing. 

69 percent: How many people overall said the Senate should give Garland a fair hearing. 

Source: A poll from Monmouth University released Monday. http://bit.ly/22zUdQX

 

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"While less popular than handguns, stun guns are widely owned and accepted as a legitimate means of self-defense across the country," --Justice Samuel Alito.

The Supreme Court on Monday overturned a state ban on stun guns. http://bit.ly/1Zl4EWE

 

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.

Click here to sign up for the newsletter: http://bit.ly/1pc6tau 

 

This story was updated on March 22 at 10:10 a.m.