Overnight Regulation: Obama signs chemical safety overhaul

Welcome to Overnight Regulation, your daily rundown of news from Capitol Hill and beyond. It's Wednesday evening here in Washington, where Democrats are staging a sit-in on the House floor over gun control. It follows Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyOvernight Defense: 1,500 troops heading to Mideast to counter Iran | Trump cites Iran tensions to push through Saudi arms sale | Senate confirms Army, Navy chiefs before weeklong recess Senators say Trump using loophole to push through Saudi arms sale Frustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' MORE's (D-Conn.) filibuster last week to force votes on gun measures. http://bit.ly/28PAhcc

Here's the latest.

 

THE BIG STORY

President Obama signed legislation Wednesday that will update decades-old rules on toxic chemicals.

The Hill's Timothy Cama has the story:

The measure is the most significant environmental law in more than a quarter-century. It promises to completely revamp the way the federal government oversees thousands of potentially toxic chemicals sold to millions of Americans every day in common products.

The law is dubbed the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemicals for the 21st Century Act, after the late New Jersey senator who championed the concept for the better part of a decade.

"The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act will make it easier for the EPA to review chemicals that are already on the market, as well as the new chemicals our scientists and businesses design," Obama said at a signing ceremony in Washington, D.C., attended by lawmakers who sponsored the bill, health advocates and Bonnie Lautenberg, the senator's widow.

"This is a big deal. This is a good law, an important law," he said.

The bill has been decades in the making and the result of years of intense on-and-off legislative negotiations. Obama noted that reforming the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 (TSCA) was a significant point of discussion when he was a senator on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee 10 years ago.

It reforms the TSCA, which numerous stakeholders had regarded for years as toothless. The TSCA prevented the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating even the most harmful chemicals, such as carcinogenic asbestos.

Under the new law, however, the EPA now has wide-ranging authority to order testing of and regulate the thousands of chemicals that are in use, as well as the hundreds of new substances that come on the market each year. Crucially, the EPA no longer has to prove that regulating a chemical is cost-effective and only has to show that it is harmful to public health or the environment. 

Read more here: http://bit.ly/28Q5fzX

 

ON TAP FOR THURSDAY 

The Supreme Court is expected to issue decisions starting at 10 a.m. 

The Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee will hold a hearing to examine bank capital and liquidity regulation. http://1.usa.gov/28N9dVi

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The Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee will hold a hearing to discuss the ramifications of the Supreme Court decision in Kingdomware Technologies v. U.S., a case about government contracts. http://1.usa.gov/28NqpcN

The House Small Business Committee will hold a hearing to discuss the repercussions of the Labor Department's overtime rule. http://1.usa.gov/1UT25d0

The House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on the Interior will hold a hearing to discuss the Environmental Protection Agency's proposed groundwater rule for in-situ uranium recovery. http://1.usa.gov/28V0nWS

 

TOMORROW'S REGS TODAY

The Obama administration will publish 120 new regulations, proposed rules, notices and other administrative actions in Thursday's edition of the Federal Register.

--The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is removing references to the term "midget" raisins from its regulations following a complaint from the Little People of America.

The USDA's Agriculture and Marketing Service announced Wednesday it will remove the references in the agency's grading standards.

The term was used to identify small raisins in the USDA's grading standard, but advocacy groups told the agency that the term, which many people find offensive, is "socially unacceptable." The USDA called the revision a "matter of common decency."

The changes stem from a 2013 petition filed by the Little People of America, which said it was "trying to raise awareness around and eliminate the use of the word 'midget.'

The changes go into effect in 30 days. http://bit.ly/28NJUp1

For more on the story, click here: http://bit.ly/28OiG0J

--The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) will issue new rules for wind generators.

The FERC will eliminate an exemption and now require wind generators to "provide reactive power."

The new rule goes into effect in 90 days. http://bit.ly/28MLBlf

--The General Services Administration (GSA) will issue a regulation on new acquisitions.

Federal contractors will be required to report so-called transactional data.

"Transactional data refers to the information generated when the government purchases goods or services from a vendor," the agency writes. "It includes specific details such as descriptions, part numbers, quantities, and prices paid for the items purchased."

The new rule goes into effect immediately. http://bit.ly/28MLCFW

 

NEWS RIGHT NOW 

Supreme Court justices given Frederick Douglass bust, trips around the world http://bit.ly/28PobzE

Southern lawmakers fight to keep USDA catfish inspections http://bit.ly/28N5atz

USDA removes references to 'midget' raisins http://bit.ly/28OiG0J

Obama signs pipeline safety bill http://bit.ly/28N5A38

EPA chief tangles with GOP on regulations http://bit.ly/28Qcjf7

Top Senate Dems back compromise gun bill http://bit.ly/28QjSDs

Chamber chief rips Warren 'power' grab http://bit.ly/28NgCUx

GOP targets net neutrality despite court ruling http://bit.ly/28NgHHG

Environmental groups unite to oppose energy bill http://bit.ly/28Qk2uI

GOP draws battle line with ObamaCare alternative http://bit.ly/28Nabm6

Freedom Caucus urges vote on impeaching IRS chief http://bit.ly/28NgSmh

Judiciary chairman signals openness to censuring IRS chief http://bit.ly/28Nhngh

Google praises industry-backed cable box plan http://bit.ly/28PBKPL

EU official: New privacy shield in July http://bit.ly/28NuNbT

Lawmakers line up to knock ethanol mandate http://bit.ly/28QyXp6

Feds announce largest Medicare, Medicaid fraud takedown in history – The Washington Post http://wapo.st/28YbUpp

Michigan attorney general sues 2 companies over Flint water crisis – The New York Times  http://nyti.ms/28N6cG4

Inside the Supreme Court – Reuters http://reut.rs/28O0h4B

  

BY THE NUMBERS 

$1.1 million: How much supporters say a USDA inspection program for catfish will cost. 

$14 million: How much the Government Accountability Office estimated the USDA program would cost. http://bit.ly/28N5atz

 

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"Though the use of the word 'midget' by the USDA when classifying certain food products is benign, Little People of America, and the dwarfism community, hopes that the USDA would consider phasing out the term 'midget,' " -- Little People of America wrote in a 2013 petition to the USDA, which removed the term "midget" from its regulations Wednesday. http://bit.ly/28OiG0J

 

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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