Overnight Regulation

Overnight Regulation: Web comes out in force to back net neutrality rules | Greens sue EPA over smog rule delay | Pick for banking regulator drops out

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Welcome to Overnight Regulation, your daily rundown of news from the federal agencies, Capitol Hill, the courts and beyond. It’s Wednesday night, which means tomorrow we get to see the newest version of the Senate’s ObamaCare repeal bill.

 

THE BIG STORY

Major technology companies and tech advocacy organizations banded together in a last-ditch effort to save the Federal Communication Commission’s net neutrality rules.

On Wednesday, companies including Google, Facebook and Amazon, along with Democratic lawmakers and advocacy groups, staged a net neutrality “Day of Action” aimed at stopping FCC Chairman Ajit Pai from scrapping the net neutrality rules approved by the agency in 2015.

The event was organized by pro-net neutrality group Fight for the Future.

{mosads}Some participating internet companies showcased prompts and banners on their websites urging users to fight back against Pai’s initiative. Twitter even promoted a tweet and hashtag backing net neutrality, the first time it has done so on a policy issue.

On discussion forum Reddit, users saw a graphic warning them that without the rules broadband companies could slow down some websites.

Facebook executives Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg penned blog posts in support of the rules.

Background: What’s net neutrality? The principle that internet service providers should treat traffic from websites or apps equally and not be able to slow down or block content.

So what’s the big deal? Pai is pursuing a plan that, if approved, would significantly roll back regulations on internet providers. He argues that the rules are a “bureaucratic straitjacket” impeding investment in broadband by companies like AT&T, Verizon and Cox Communications.

Will the protests be successful? The online activism is reminiscent of the techniques that major websites used in 2012 to stop legislation in Congress aimed at preventing online piracy. But with a Republican majority controlling the FCC and President Trump supportive of rolling back the rules, there’s reason to doubt that the online activism will do much to change the agency’s course.

Ali Breland has the full story here.

 

ON TAP FOR THURSDAY

The House Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing on the effect of the Labor Department’s financial adviser rule on markets at 10:00 a.m.

The House Appropriations Committee marks up the fiscal 2018 Commerce, Justice and Science and fiscal 2018 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bills at 10:00 a.m.

The House Appropriations state and foreign operations subcommittee will mark up its fiscal 2018 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill.

The House Appropriations Labor, Health and Human Services and Education subcommittee will mark up the fiscal 2018 Labor and Health and Human Services appropriations bill at 4:30 p.m.

 

NET NEUTRALITY ROUNDUP

On this Day of Action, here are the other major net neutrality stories you may have missed today:

Top House Energy and Commerce Committee Democrats criticized Republicans for not holding any oversight hearings of the FCC this year. Reps. Frank Pallone Jr. (N.J.) and Mike Doyle (Pa.) suggested Republicans are trying to “shield the FCC from having to explain its push to install such unpopular policies,” like the repeal of net neutrality rules, Harper Neidig writes.

Ali Breland reports on an op-ed by Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) calling for bipartisan net neutrality legislation. Thune critiqued the uncertainty of relying on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), whose leadership can change every time the party in the White House does.

Democratic lawmakers joined with activists to rally outside the Capitol in 90-plus degree heat to slam Republican efforts to repeal the internet rules, Harper Neidig reports.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez jumped into the net neutrality fight on Wednesday, voicing his support for the policy, Ali Breland writes. Perez’s Wednesday statement is not his first support for net neutrality. In April, he took shots at the Trump administration for siding “with the big telecom companies and their lobbyists” on the matter.

 

OTHER REGULATORY NEWS

Environment: Environmental and health groups are suing the Trump administration to stop the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) delay of an ozone pollution regulation.

The groups, led by Earthjustice, said Wednesday that EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt acted illegally when he decided last month to delay by one year the implementation of the Obama administration’s regulation.

The lawsuit is the latest in a string of legal challenges by greens, public health groups and Democratic state attorneys general against the massive, historic rollback of energy and environmental regulations by the Trump administration.

Timothy Cama has more here.

 

Finance: President Trump’s pick to lead the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation has asked the White House to withdraw his nomination, a spokeswoman for the president said Wednesday.

A White House aide confirmed that James Clinger asked Trump to withdraw his name from consideration. Clinger pulled himself out of consideration to lead the key financial regulator, citing a family issue.

Sylvan Lane has the story here.

 

Environment:  A Senate committee on Wednesday cleared three Trump administration nominees to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), sending them to the floor for consideration.

The Environment and Public Works Committee approved Annie Caputo and David Wright to serve as members of the NRC on Wednesday. If they are confirmed by the full Senate, the NRC would have a full slate of five members.

Caputo is a senior advisor to Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.). The committee cleared her nomination on a bipartisan 15-6 vote. Wright is a former South Carolina Public Service Commission member. The committee approved his nomination on a 12-9 vote.

Devin Henry has the full story.

Environment: The House Appropriations Committee approved a $37.6 billion annual spending bill for the Department of Energy and water infrastructure programs, Timothy Cama reports.

The committee vote prepares the bill for possible final consideration by the House. The panel passed the bill by voice vote, without a recorded tally, though Democrats objected to numerous provisions contained in the measure.

The legislation for fiscal 2018 would reduce funding for the programs in its jurisdiction by $203 million compared to current levels. However, the bill is $3.2 billion above the drastic cuts that President Trump had sought as part of his effort to shift $54 billion from nondefense programs to defense ones.

Read the story here.

 

Environment: A House panel on Wednesday approved a $31.4 billion bill funding the Interior Department and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the first step toward moving the legislation to the floor.

A House Appropriations subcommittee advanced the bill to the full committee for consideration, but a markup date hasn’t been set yet.

The bill would slash the EPA’s budget by $528 million, or 6.5 percent, next year, a cut that would send the agency’s funding to 2008 levels, but far smaller than the $2.6 billion cut President Trump had sought.

Finance: A top House Democrat is suggesting two potential solutions to the current impasse over a Senate-passed Russian sanctions bill.

Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) is proposing fixes to resolve an impasse. The legislation, approved in an overwhelming 98-2 vote in the Senate last month, was held up in the House when lawmakers said it violated the constitutional requirement that all revenue-raising measures originate in the lower chamber.

Senators then approved a proposed fix by unanimous consent, but House Democrats objected to a provision in those changes that would limit the minority’s ability to force a floor vote on a resolution of disapproval if the Trump administration were to lift sanctions Russia.

Cristina Marcos has the full story.

 

Finance: The federal agency that oversees mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced on Wednesday a multibillion settlement with the Royal Bank of Scotland Group over the sale of shoddy mortgages ahead of the 2008 financial crisis.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) said the Royal Bank of Scotland would pay a $5.5 billion fine over its subprime mortgage lending practices between 2005 and 2007.

Under the terms of the agreement, Royal Bank of Scotland will pay approximately $4.525 billion to Freddie Mac and approximately $975 million to Fannie Mae and certain claims against the bank related to the securities involved will be released, the FHFA said.

Vicki Needham has the story here.

 

ELSEWHERE IN THE NEWS

FDA to use computer modeling to step up device, drug regulation (Healthcare IT News)

Arkansas bans herbicide as farmers blame neighbors for crop damage (The Wall Street Journal)

Newly appointed regulation czar comes with deregulation theories (Marketplace)

 

Send tips, story ideas and haikus to nweixel@thehill.com and follow me on Twitter @NateWeixel

Tags John Barrasso John Thune

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