Overnight Regulation: House votes to repeal forced arbitration rule | Dems look to ban controversial pesticide | House panel wants to hear from tech CEOs on net neutrality
Welcome to Overnight Regulations, your daily rundown of news from the federal agencies, Capitol Hill and the courts. It’s Tuesday evening here in Washington where Senate Republicans just voted to start debate on legislation to repeal ObamaCare. Read about it here.
THE BIG STORY
The House voted Tuesday to repeal a controversial new rule from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) that would have protected consumers’ rights to sue banks in class-action lawsuits.
Lawmakers voted 231-190 to repeal the rule using the Congressional Review Act, a law that allows Congress to eliminate regulations within 60 days of their release and bars agencies from issuing similar rules in the future. Only one Republican, Rep. Walter Jones (N.C.), joined Democrats in voting against repeal.
The repeal resolution will now move to the Senate. Republicans will need near-unanimous support from their slim majority to pass it in the upper chamber.
President Trump is expected to sign the bill if it reaches his desk. The White House said Monday it “strongly supports” the repeal effort.
The effort to repeal the arbitration rule is only the latest flashpoint in a long running fight between Republicans and the CFPB.
Here’s what the rule would do
- Force companies to write arbitration clauses included in contracts in ways that would not prevent consumers from joining class-action lawsuits.
- Mandate that financial firms hand over information about “initial claims and counterclaims, answers to these claims and counterclaims, and awards issued in arbitration.”
Arbitration clauses are commonly included in customer contracts to help banks or businesses avoid lawsuits from consumers who say they have been defrauded or abused.
Tuesday’s vote was also a quick rebuke for a rule that was only issued earlier this month.
The rule brought immediate opposition from business groups and the financial industry. Critics said it was an abuse of the CFPB’s powers. and claimed the rule limits consumer choices and makes it harder to collect from bad actors.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and several major bank lobbying groups urged Congress to repeal the rule within hours of its release, and top Republicans in both chambers unified against the bill.
House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) said “as a matter of principle, policy, and process, this anti-consumer rule should be thoroughly rejected,” after its release.
Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) said it was “incumbent on Congress to vote to overturn this rule.”
The CFPB reported that more than 34 million consumers received $1 billion in payments from lawsuits over the past five years, but that arbitrators awarded only a total of about $360,000 in relief to 78 consumers in two years of cases the agency studied.
Democrats defended the rule Tuesday, saying that it guaranteed consumers their day in court and was essential to protecting customers’ due process from abusive banks and credit card companies.
Rep. Maxine Waters (Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, said “there is no sound public policy rationale for repealing” the CFPB rule.
“It is outrageous that Republicans are trying to nullify the rule to the detriment of consumers,” she said. “Republicans should think twice before taking away consumers’ rights to be heard in a court of law.”
Both sides quickly mobilized ahead of Tuesday’s vote, which was scheduled only five days after lawmakers introduced their repeal resolution.
Sylvan Lane has the story here.
ON TAP FOR WEDNESDAY
The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government will hold a hearing on the fiscal 2018 proposed budget for the Treasury Department.
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will meet to mark up the Hunting Heritage and Environmental Legacy Preservation for Wildlife Act, a bill supporters say will increase hunting opportunities on federal land while also protecting wildlife.
The House Committee on Small Business will hold a hearing to discuss how to protect small businesses from cyber attacks.
The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy will hold a hearing to review the operation and effectiveness of the nation’s wholesale electricity markets.
Environment: A group of Democrats introduced legislation Tuesday to ban the controversial pesticide chlorpyrifos.
The bill comes in response to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Scott Pruitt, who in March decided against banning chlorpyrifos on food crops, reversing course from the Obama administration.
Research cited by the Obama administration’s proposal found that the pesticide can cause neurological and brain development problems in children and fetuses, among other health problems.
But many companies argue the science is uncertain and banning the pesticide would be too costly.
Timothy Cama has the story here.
Labor: The Labor Department will ask for public input as it seeks to revise a controversial overtime rule that was finalized under former President Obama.
The agency said a Request for Information (RFI) to be published on Wednesday is an “opportunity for the public to provide information that will aid the department in formulating a proposal to revise these regulations which define and delimit exemptions from the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA) minimum wage and overtime requirements for certain employees.”
The rule more than doubled the FLSA’s annual wage threshold for who can qualify for overtime, from $23,660 to $47,476. It was blocked from taking effect last December by a Texas district court order.
Read about it here.
Environment: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Scott Pruitt ordered his staff in a memo on Tuesday to take a handful of actions aimed at streamlining cleanups at contaminated Superfund sites.
Pruitt ordered the changes — like taking quick action at sites with high risks of human exposure to contaminants and focusing resources on sites with the best potential for reuse — based on the recommendations of a task force he convened earlier this year.
The memo sent to high-level staff and regional offices is part of Pruitt’s highly-visible effort to make Superfund a top priority for his time at the EPA.
Timothy Cama has more here.
Tech: House Republicans are asking the CEOs of majory technology and telecommunications companies to weigh in on the net neutrality debate as the Federal Communications Commission moves to repeal the Obama-era rules.
Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said in a hearing on Tuesday that he has invited the executives to testify before the panel on September 7 to settle the debate.
“A strong consensus is forming across party lines and across industries that it’s time for Congress to call a halt on the back-and-forth and set clear net neutrality ground rules for the internet,” Walden said.
The move comes as Republicans have been pressuring Democrats to come to the negotiating table to work out a legislative replacement to the FCC’s net neutrality rules, which are in the process of being repealed by the agency’s Republican leaders.
Democrats and net neutrality supporters worry such a bill would unnecessarily water down current FCC protections that require internet service providers to treat all web traffic equally.
Walden sent invitations to the chief executives of Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google parent company Alphabet, Verizon, AT&T, Comcast and Charter Communications.
Harper Neidig has more here.
Energy: American electric utilities knew decades ago about the role fossil fuels play in climate change, according to a study released Tuesday.
The Energy and Policy Institute study, citing industry documents, found that utilities and industry groups were aiming to investigate the “effects of carbon dioxide” on the environment — including rising temperatures and sea levels — as early as the 1970s.
Devin Henry has the details here.
Voter fraud: A federal judge has rejected a request to block President Trump’s voter fraud commission from collecting information on registered voters across the country.
The Electronic Privacy Information Center’s (EPIC) had asked for a preliminary injunction to stop the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity from collecting publicly available voter roll information. That information includes names, voting histories and, most controversially, the last four digits of voters’ Social Security numbers.
But Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled the commission is not considered a federal agency and therefore not required to follow certain reporting requirements under the Administrative Procedures Act (APA), as the group claimed.
Find that story here.
IN THE NEWS
As Interior secretary swaggers through parks, his staff rolls back regulations – The New York Times
In Congress, new fears and new protections in wake of baseball team shooting – The Washington Post
Why are Rand Paul and Kamala Harris teaming up on a bill? – The Washington Post
Send tips, story ideas and pasta recipes to firstname.lastname@example.org and follow me on Twitter @wheelerlydia.