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Overnight Regulation: Senators call for 'cost-effective' regs | FCC chief unveils plans to roll back net neutrality

Overnight Regulation: Senators call for 'cost-effective' regs | FCC chief unveils plans to roll back net neutrality
© Greg Nash

Welcome to Overnight Regulation, your daily rundown of news from the federal agencies, courts, Capitol Hill, and beyond. It's Wednesday evening here in Washington. Here's the latest.

 

THE BIG STORIES

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A new reg reform bill: 

A bipartisan group of senators is tackling regulatory reform from a new angle.

The Regulatory Accountability Act reintroduced Wednesday in the upper chamber would require federal agencies to issue the most "cost-effective" rules necessary to accomplish their goals. 

In contrast to previous versions of the Regulatory Accountability Act, which mandated agencies issue the "least costly" rules, the version supported by Sens. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanRepublican frustration builds over Cabinet picks Senators call for passage of bill to cement alcohol excise tax relief The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - GOP angst in Georgia; confirmation fight looms MORE (R-Ohio) and Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampGrassley suggests moderate Democrats for next Agriculture secretary Major unions back Fudge for Agriculture secretary Five House Democrats who could join Biden Cabinet MORE (D-N.D.) would give regulators flexibility to issue slightly more expensive regulations, if they add greater value to the economy.

This slight tweak in the wording of the bill is intended to assure Democrats the legislation will not water down regulations and other important public protections.

"We continue to prioritize workplace safety and protections for our environment," Portman told reporters. "This is not about doing away with this standards. It's about finding a smarter way to regulate."

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The Regulatory Accountability Act would require federal agencies to conduct a cost-benefit analysis before issuing a new rule. They must then issue what is determined to be the most cost-effective rule.

"Federal regulations keep our air clean and families safe, and no one wants to go back to an era without safety standards," Heitkamp told reporters. "But sometimes regulations don't work as intended and create red tape."

For major rules, these cost-benefit analyses could be challenged in court.

Federal agencies would also be required to disclose the scientific data they rely on to "justify new rules," and give the public an opportunity to dispute the facts used to support major rules during a public hearing.

The most significant rules would be subject to an automatic review process every 10 years.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce sent a letter to Senate leaders earlier this year calling for the Regulatory Accountability Act.

But critics remain skeptical that the legislation could be used to weaken important public protections.

Read more here: http://bit.ly/2q9csm2

 

FCC chief unveils net neutrality rollback:

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai on Wednesday revealed his plans for rolling back net neutrality.

The Hill's Ali Breland has the story:

During a speech at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., Pai said he plans to hand regulatory jurisdiction of broadband providers back to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), an agency that critics argue is less prepared to handle them.

Originally passed under Democrat Tom Wheeler's chairmanship, the net neutrality rules -- more formally referred to as the Open Internet Order of 2015 -- set restrictions on internet service providers (ISPs) prioritizing certain kinds of web traffic and throttling others. The rules were broadly aimed at establishing a level playing field for companies on the internet.

Broadband companies quickly praised Pai's proposal.

"We applaud FCC Chairman Pai's initiative to remove this stifling regulatory cloud over the internet," AT&T said in a blog post. "Businesses large and small will have a clearer path to invest more in our nation's broadband infrastructure under Chairman Pai's leadership."

Telecommunications companies and Republicans at the FCC have argued that net neutrality is an example of the government overstepping its boundaries with onerous regulations that stifle broadband innovation and investment.

But consumer groups that backed the net neutrality rules expressed outrage, and many have been mobilizing since Pai's expected changes were reported earlier in April.

Click here for the full story: http://bit.ly/2oxPBAO

 

More on net neutrality:

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Pai will also brief lawmakers on his plans later this week.

Hundreds of startups also urged Pai to preserve the rules.

The FCC's lone Dem commissioner blasted the repeal plan.

While Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanPaul Ryan calls for Trump to accept results: 'The election is over' Bottom line Democratic anger rises over Trump obstacles to Biden transition MORE (R-Wis.) praised Pai's plans.

 

ON TAP FOR THURSDAY 

The House Educations and the Workforce Committee will hold a hearing on how to strengthen the college accreditation process to better protect students and taxpayers. 

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The House Financial Services Subcommittee on Terrorism and Illicit Finance will hold a hearing to discuss how to safeguard the financial system from terrorist financing. 

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies will hold a hearing on how to prevent veteran suicide. 

 

TOMORROW'S REGS TODAY

Keep an eye on these rules in Thursday's edition of the Federal Register:

--The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) will raise the fines for safety violations.

The new penalties go into effect immediately.

--The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will issue new rules for telecommunications relay services.

The rules would "improve the interoperability and portability of services, equipment, and software used for video relay services," the agency says.

The rules go into effect in 30 days.

--The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will allow truck drivers with poor vision in one eye to get behind the wheel.

The FMCSA will renew the vision requirement exemptions for 62 truck drivers who would otherwise be prohibited from driving commercial motor vehicles between states.

The FMCSA determined they can see well enough in their other eye to drive safely.

--The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will correct mistakes in the agency's environmental policies.

The corrections go into effect immediately.

 

NEWS RIGHT NOW 

Automakers to meet with Trump officials on fuel efficiency standards

Four Republicans sign letter urging Trump to stay in Paris deal

Supreme Court skeptical of broad power to revoke citizenship 

150 workers die each day from hazardous work conditions: AFL-CIO study 

GOP rep pushes bill to weaken e-cigarette regs 

Sanders, Dems introduce $15 minimum wage bill 

AP Explains: What is net neutrality and why does it matter? – AP 

Sanctuary cities ruling: When a judge quotes Sean Spicer, it's not a good sign for the White House – The Washington Post 

 

BY THE NUMBERS

6: Proposed rules

8: Final rules

(Source: Thursday's Federal Register) 

 

QUOTE OF THE DAY 

"While the revised version still does not fully repeal Obamacare, we are prepared to support it to keep our promise to the American people to lower healthcare costs," the Freedom Caucus said announcing support for a revised GOP ObamaCare repeal plan.

Click here for more on the GOP's big step forward on ObamaCare repeal.