Overnight Regulation: GMO labeling bill faces House vote

Welcome to Overnight Regulations, your daily rundown of news from the federal agencies, Capitol Hill and beyond. It's Wednesday evening here in Washington where we're all counting down the days until summer recess. 

Here's the latest. 

 

THE BIG STORY 

The House is expected to vote Thursday on a bill on labels for foods with genetically modified ingredients.

The legislation from the Senate, hailed as a bipartisan compromise, blocks states from issuing their own mandatory labeling laws and directs the U.S. Department of Agriculture to create a national labeling standard instead. 

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USDA's rule would allow food producers to use text, symbols or QR codes consumers can scan with a smartphone to find out if a product contains genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. 

Critics say the bill would only weaken state consumer protections.

And Democrats also took issue with the provision in the bill that would let make consumers use smartphones to look up GMO information.

"In order to access the information through the QR code, an individual must have a smartphone and must have access to the internet," Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) said during a floor debate Wednesday. "The reality is that not every American has access to a smartphone or the internet." 

Even if someone has a smartphone, McGovern argued they'd still have to scan every item they purchase to find out if GMOs are present.

"It is a bad idea," he said. "It is an intentional measure to deny consumers information."

Republicans urged their colleagues to support science and pass the GMO labeling bill.

"We have been eating genetically modified foods since the beginning of time ... all of us have," said Rep. Virginia FoxxVirginia Ann FoxxThe GOP's commitment to electing talented women can help party retake the House When disaster relief hurts Lobbying World MORE (R-N.C). "Anybody who raises a garden know you collect your good seeds and try to use them over and over again." 

Foxx claims the legislation gives manufacturers a variety of options to meet the labeling requirement - be it text, a symbol or QR code. 

"The manufacturer chooses their preferred method," she said.  

 

ON TAP FOR THURSDAY 

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions will hold a hearing to discuss how to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act. http://bit.ly/29YvJ2P

The House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Transportation and Public Assets will hold a hearing to discuss how high speed rail in the U.S. is lagging behind. http://bit.ly/29EwARR

The House Committee on Science, Space and Technology will hold a hearing to evaluate the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation's response to major data breaches. http://bit.ly/29z4kiN

 

TOMORROW'S REGS TODAY

The Obama administration will publish 213 new regulations, proposed rules, notices and other administrative actions in Thursday's edition of the Federal Register.

--The Department of Energy (DOE) will issue new energy conservation standards for air conditioners.

The Energy Department's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy on Wednesday announced regional standards for central air conditioners.

The rules go into effect in 30 days. http://bit.ly/29EtEEE

--The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will consider new catfish standards.

The voluntary standards would address the quality of catfish sold to American consumers.

The public has 60 days to comment. http://bit.ly/29Ep5eP

--The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will revive an airport safety rule.

The FAA will propose new requirements for airports to establish a safety management system. The rule was previously proposed in 2010.

The new proposal loosens some of the initial requirements.

The public has 60 days to comment. http://bit.ly/29xtL5q

--The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will update the registration requirements for food facilities.

The new registration requirements will apply to food facilities that "manufacture, process, pack, or hold food for human or animal consumption in the United States."

The new rule goes into effect in 60 days. http://bit.ly/29DTp86

 

NEWS RIGHT NOW

Animal rights activists call for red wolf protections. http://bit.ly/29z2GOh

Warren joins call for Airbnb probe. http://bit.ly/29Ord5H

Texas Republicans pushing death penalty bill for cop killers. http://bit.ly/29CHAht

Lawmakers form group to work on police issues. http://bit.ly/29Qr9UA

GOP lawmaker: Ginsburg's actions 'must be met with consequences.' http://bit.ly/29DNPro

Business executives concerned about overtime rule, survey finds. http://bit.ly/29OLJDt

House chairman: Compromise energy reform bill unlikely before election http://bit.ly/29EztSq

Senate clears FAA reauthorization bill http://bit.ly/29DQZeW

Tax lawyers: Congress shouldn't impeach IRS chief http://bit.ly/29DQykV

Fintech leaders cautious as online lender regulations loom (ThinkAdvisor). http://bit.ly/29w9bpn

 

BY THE NUMBERS

82 percent: Business executives who expect Labor Department enforcements to impact their business. 

74 percent: Business executives who expect to see more discrimination claims over the next year related to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers. 

(Source: Littler Mendelson's Executive Employer Survey) 

Business executives are bracing for changes in the workplace. http://bit.ly/29OLJDt

 

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"The red wolf is now one of the world's most endangered mammal species. There are 37 times as many giant pandas, 100 times as many snow leopards, and 400 times as many African lions in the wild as there are red wolves left in eastern North Carolina," -- Ron Sutherland, a conservation scientist at Wildlands Network.

Activists are mounting pressure on the Obama administration to protect endangered red wolves. http://bit.ly/29z2GOh

 

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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