Overnight Regulation: EPA moves to repeal Obama water rule | Labor chief to review overtime rule | Record fine for Google

Overnight Regulation: EPA moves to repeal Obama water rule | Labor chief to review overtime rule | Record fine for Google
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Welcome to Overnight Regulation, your daily rundown of news from the federal agencies, Capitol Hill and the courts. It's Tuesday evening here in Washington where Senate Republicans have delayed a vote on their legislation to repeal ObamaCare. Read about it here.

 

THE BIG STORY 

The Trump administration announced Tuesday a formal proposal to repeal the controversial "waters of the United States" rule finalized under former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaMcCaskill to oppose Kavanaugh nomination Presidential approval: It's the economy; except when it's not Time for sunshine on Trump-Russia investigation MORE

The rule, which strengthened the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) authority over minor water bodies like wetlands, streams and ponds, had been labeled by opponents as a massive federal land grab that would give EPA the ability to regulate ditches, puddles and soggy ground.

Here's what you need to know about EPA move to repeal the rule: 

  • EPA, the Army Corps of Engineers and federal officials would go back to enforcing a guidance document from 2008 when deciding whether a waterway is subject to federal oversight for pollution control purposes.
  • Public comments will be accepted after the repeal proposal is published in the Federal Register.
  • Once comments are considered and any changes are made, EPA can make the repeal final.

The proposal is the first formal step EPA has taken toward fulfilling President Trump's campaign promise to repeal the 2015 regulation. The Trump administration reportedly plans to write a new regulation to replace the water rule with a more industry-friendly definition of federal power over waterways.

Timothy Cama has the full story

 

ON TAP FOR WEDNESDAY 

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold a hearing to discuss criminal justice reform and efforts to reduce recidivism.

The House Financial Services Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit will hold a hearing on the anti-money laundering Regulatory Compliance Regime.

The Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education will hold a hearing to look at ways to strengthen education research while protecting student privacy. 

 

REG ROUNDUP 

Energy: House appropriators on Tuesday introduced a spending bill for federal energy and water departments that spends $3.65 billion more in 2018 than President Trump requested for the agencies.

The bill, which funds the Department of Energy (DOE), nuclear weapons oversight, the Army Corps of Engineers and other departments, would spend $37.56 billion total in 2018, a $209 million cut from current funding levels.

The measure is a rejection of Trump's budget proposal, which looked to deeply slash spending for the initiatives funded by the legislation.

Devin Henry has the story here

Technology: Republican Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsCollins: My office has gotten 'pretty ugly voicemails, threats' over Kavanaugh The Memo: Tide turns on Kavanaugh Budowsky: Kavanaugh and the rights of women MORE (Maine) wants the Justice Department to take a closer look at AT&T's merger with Time Warner. 

In a letter to acting Assistant Attorney General Andrew Finch, Collins reportedly expressed concern with a consolidation of power that could lead to "reduced programming choices and higher prices for consumers."

"The risk is real that the acquisition of such a prominent content producer by a distributor of AT&T's size could allow it to dramatically reduce consumer choice in favor of its new in-house brand," Collins wrote.

The merger would combine one of the nation's telecom giants with an entertainment powerhouse.

Ali Breland has the story.

Environment: Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt was in the hot sear Tuesday answering questions from senators skeptical of the steep cuts to the agency President Trump has proposed.

Senators from both parties reportedly voiced concerns with at least some parts of the Trump administration's proposed $5.65 billion budget for the EPA for next year, a cut of about 30 percent below its current funding level.

Pruitt faced repeated pressure to defend slashes to programs that enjoy wide support among lawmakers, such as Superfund and air quality grants.

Sen. Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallTrump administration weakens methane pollution standards for drilling on public lands Senate Dems want DOJ review of Giuliani's work for foreign entities McCain's former chief of staff considering Senate bid as Democrat MORE (D-N.M.) called the budget request "downright offensive."

Timothy Cama has the story

Labor: The Labor Department officially put out a request for public comment on the controversial overtime rule finalized under former President Barack Obama. 

The agency announced Tuesday that it sent a request for information to the White House Office of Management and Budget to be published in the Federal Register. 

Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta told lawmakers at a House budget committee hearing earlier this month that a request for information is the first step an agency must take if it wants to change or repeal a rule.  

Under the Administrative Procedures Act, he said the agency must go through the same lengthy process used to issue new rules in order to get rid of one. 

"If there were to be a change, that change would have to be based on information obtained through a record process, the first step of which is a request for information," he said.

The rule, which was blocked from taking effect Dec. 1 by a Texas district court order, more than doubles the Fair Labor Standards Act threshold for who can qualify for overtime, by raising the exemption from $23,660 to $47,476 a year. 

While testifying before the committee, Acosta suggested he supports an increase but thinks the threshold was set too high.

Tech: The European Union on Tuesday fined Google a record $2.7 billion for abusing its dominant position as a search engine to advance its own products.

The European Commission, the executive arm of the EU, said that Google gave itself an illegal advantage by boosting its own comparison shopping service on its website at the expense of its competitors' products.

"Google's strategy for its comparison shopping service wasn't just about attracting customers by making its product better than those of its rivals," said Margrethe Vestager, the EU's commissioner of competition. "Instead, Google abused its market dominance as a search engine by promoting its own comparison shopping service in its search results, and demoting those of competitors."

Google says that it disagrees with the commission's findings and will consider making an appeal as it reviews the findings.

Ali Breland has the full story here.

Environment: A national group representing pediatricians says the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) put children at significant risk by refusing to restrict uses of the pesticide chlorpyrifos.

In a letter Tuesday to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, the American Academy of Pediatrics, along with the Environmental Working Group, accused the EPA of ignoring its own findings that chlorpyrifos poses specific risks to children, infants and developing fetuses.

"We are deeply alarmed by EPA's decision not to finalize the proposed rule to end chlorpyrifos uses on food -- a decision that was premised on the need for further study on the effects of chlorpyrifos on children before finalizing a rule," the two groups wrote to Pruitt.

"The risk to infant and children's health and development is unambiguous," they added. The letter comes amid continued debate over the safety of chlorpyrifos, a controversial pesticide sold by Dow Chemical Co. that is used on crops like corn, almonds and cotton.

Timothy Cama has the story here.

 

IN THE NEWS 

Perry defends energy grid study 

Supreme Court agrees to hear NJ sports betting case 

Seattle's higher minimum wage is actually working just fine – The Washington Post 

The rise, fall and partial resurrection of Trump's travel ban, explained – Vox

With 54 million to go, this air bag recall is never going to end – The Wall Street Journal

That moisturizer you're slathering on your face isn't regulated – Fortune 

New era for financial regulations as top rulemakers step down – Financial Times

 

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