Overnight Regulation: Senate confirms Trump pick to labor board | Court lets states defend ozone rule | Regulator seeks input on changing 'Volcker Rule'

Overnight Regulation: Senate confirms Trump pick to labor board | Court lets states defend ozone rule | Regulator seeks input on changing 'Volcker Rule'
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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, the House is on recess and the Senate could be heading home sooner than planned.

 

THE BIG STORY

The Senate confirmed President Trump's controversial pick to fill an open seat on the National Labor Relations Board.

Marvin Kaplan was confirmed on a party-line vote of 50-48 on Wednesday.

Kaplan currently serves as chief counsel for the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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William Emanuel, a labor lawyer at Littler Mendelson in Los Angeles, has been tapped to fill the second open seat of the board, but the Senate has yet to vote on that nomination. Republicans, however, are anxious to get the two vacancies filled.

The fight: Trump's nomination of Kaplan sparked controversy, with Democrats questioning his knowledge of labor law and whether he would defend workers' rights on the board.

The stakes: The board is responsible for resolving labor disputes and protecting workers' collective bargaining rights in the private sector.

If Emanuel is also confirmed, the balance of power on the board will shift from Democrats to Republicans for the first time in years. It's a change welcomed by conservatives, who have long argued the board unfairly favors unions over employers.

Lydia Wheeler has the full story here.

 

REGULATORY ROUNDUP

Environment:  A federal court ruling will allow a handful of states controlled by Democratic administrations to help defend the Obama administration's ozone pollution rule in an ongoing lawsuit.

The decision by the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit means California, New York, Vermont, Washington, Delaware and the District of Columbia can be more closely involved in defending the 2015 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulation.

Wednesday's action by the D.C. Circuit means that if the EPA decides not to defend the ozone rule, the states could carry on with the case themselves.

Timothy Cama has the story here.

 

Finance: A top banking regulator is asking for feedback on how to amend a controversial provision of the Dodd-Frank Act intended to stop risky trading at banks and investment firms.

Acting Comptroller of the Currency Keith Noreika opened the public comment process for his agency's efforts to change the "Volcker Rule," a regulation banning banks from investing on behalf of themselves, not their clients.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) said it "invites input on ways to tailor the rule's requirements and clarify key provisions that define prohibited and permissible activities."

The OCC also asked for ways for federal regulatory agencies to implement the existing rule more effectively without revising the regulation.

Sylvan Lane has more here.

 

Technology: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is one step closer to being fully staffed.

During a hearing on Wednesday, members of the Senate Commerce Committee voted to approve the confirmations of Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel and Republican Brendan Carr to the FCC panel of Commissioners. Current Republican FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's reconfirmation to the FCC was also approved by lawmakers.

The trio's confirmation will proceed to a Senate-wide vote, requiring a simple majority for approval. Despite advancing, Democrats contested Pai and Carr's confirmations. Some Democrats, including the ranking member on the Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation and the Internet, Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), voted against Pai's renomination.

Ali Breland has the story here.

 

Environment: The Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Office of the Science Adviser has cleared administrator Scott Pruitt of charges from a green group that he violated the department's Scientific Integrity Policy.

The office dismissed complaints against Pruitt from the Sierra Club over his March statement that carbon dioxide is not a "primary contributor to global warming," a position out of step with the conclusions of most climate scientists.

The Sierra Club asked the Office of the Inspector General to determine that the statement violated the integrity policy because, they contended, policymakers should not "knowingly misrepresent, exaggerate, or downplay" scientific uncertainty or "suppress or alter scientific findings."

Devin Henry has more here.

 

Transportation: Federal investigators are being sent to probe a freight train derailment and tank car fire that occurred in a small Pennsylvania town.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said that three investigators arrived on the scene in Hyndman, Pa., on Wednesday, with two more arriving Thursday and one arriving Friday.

A CSX freight train carrying hazardous materials was en route to Chicago from Selkirk, New York, when it partially derailed about 100 miles outside of Pittsburgh.

Melanie Zanona has more here.

 

Administration: Civil rights advocates are slamming the Trump administration over its reported plans to investigate affirmative action admission policies at universities that discriminate against white students.

The New York Times reported Tuesday night that it had obtained an internal announcement to the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division looking for lawyers interested in working for a new project on "investigations and possible litigation related to intentional race-based discrimination in college and university admissions."

Lambda Legal, an LGBT civil rights group, called the news a "new low" for the Department of Justice and Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTrump attacks Sessions: A 'total disaster' and 'an embarrassment to the great state of Alabama' Ocasio-Cortez fires back at Washington Times after story on her 'high-dollar hairdo' Trump's tirades, taunts and threats are damaging our democracy MORE.  

The American Civil Liberties Union's Racial Justice Program said it plans to closely monitor DOJ's actions.

The Justice Department disputed the report.

"This Department of Justice has not received or issued any directive, memorandum, initiative, or policy related to university admissions in general. The Department of Justice is committed to protecting all Americans from all forms of illegal race-based discrimination," it said in a statement.

Lydia Wheeler has the full story here.

  

ELSEWHERE IN THE NEWS

Senate to finish FDA user fee reauthorization bill ahead of summer recess (Regulatory Focus)

New state telemedicine laws show provider hurdles remain (Bloomberg BNA)

Here's what's exciting about FDA's latest digital health plans and what's to come (Med City News)

Trump proposal relies on claims by religious researchers (Boston Globe)

PricewaterhouseCoopers to Settle Brokerage Audit Allegations for $1 Million (Wall Street Journal)

 

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