Overnight Regulation: House passes bill paving way for driverless cars | Fed's No. 2 stepping down | EPA on pace for smallest workforce since '80s

Overnight Regulation: House passes bill paving way for driverless cars | Fed's No. 2 stepping down | EPA on pace for smallest workforce since '80s
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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, and Congress is back in full swing after returning from recess earlier this week. Today, President Trump delivered a stunner, cutting a deal with Dems over GOP objections.

 

THE BIG STORY

Driverless cars are one step closer to hitting the roads, after the House passed a bipartisan driverless car bill on Wednesday, advancing what could become the first set of federal laws for the emerging industry.

The "Self Drive Act" was unanimously approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee in July, before Congress left for August recess, and passed the full House on a voice vote.

Lawmakers and industry advocates say it is necessary to speed up the development of driverless technology in order to improve traffic safety. The bill comes amid an uptick in traffic deaths in the U.S.

What does it do? The bill would pre-empt states from implementing certain laws governing the new technology. It would also allow car manufacturers to deploy up to 100,000 self-driving cars a year that don't meet normal safety standards. In the first year, however, that number will be capped at 25,000.

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So how soon can my car drive me to work? Not anytime soon. The technology is still a long way from a mass rollout, but lawmakers believe that the bill could help expedite the industry's development by clearing out a patchwork of differing state laws throughout the country.

What’s next: Attention now shifts to the Senate, which is expected to put out its own version of a self-driving car bill.

Next week, the Senate Commerce Committee holds a hearing to examine self-driving trucks, an issue that wasn't covered in the House legislation. That issue is sure to raise concerns from labor groups about jobs.

Harper Neidig has the rest of the story here.

 

ON TAP FOR THURSDAY

The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee holds a hearing on stabilizing the ObamaCare insurance markets.

The Senate Finance Committee holds a hearing on reauthorizing the Children's Health Insurance Program.

The House Financial Services Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit holds a hearing on "Legislative Proposals for a More Efficient Federal Financial Regulatory Regime."

The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology holds a hearing on "The Broadcast Incentive Auction: Update on Repacking Opportunities and Challenges."

The House Financial Services Subcommittee on Capital Markets holds a hearing on "Oversight of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority."

 

REGULATORY ROUNDUP

Environment: The Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) workforce is expected to dip to levels not seen since Ronald Reagan was president, an agency official confirmed Wednesday.

Between retirements and a buyout program the EPA instituted earlier this summer, the agency is expected to lose more than 500 employees by October, an agency official confirmed the numbers to The Hill. Reuters first reported the numbers Tuesday.

Cutting EPA employment has been a key goal for Republicans for years. President Trump's budget proposal, released in May, would eliminate 3,200 of the agency's 15,000 jobs.

Devin Henry has the story here.

 

Finance: Federal Reserve Board Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer will resign from the central bank next month, he told President Trump in a letter on Wednesday.

Fischer will step down from the Fed on or around October 13, less than a year before his term as vice chairman was to end in June 2018.

Fischer's departure will open another spot for Trump to fill on the Fed's board of governors.

Fischer cited "personal reasons" for his early departure, and praised his Fed colleagues for their efforts to stabilize the economy after the 2008 crisis.

Sylvan Lane has more here.

 

Immigration: Senate Democratic Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTrump defends 'crime buster' Giuliani amid reported probe Louisiana voters head to the polls in governor's race as Trump urges GOP support Trump urges Louisiana voters to back GOP in governor's race then 'enjoy the game' MORE (N.Y.) said on Wednesday that if Republicans do not bring to the floor a bill to protect an estimated 800,000 immigrants brought to the country illegally as children from deportation, Democrats will try to attach it to any must-pass legislation this fall.

Democrats made the threat after President Trump announced he would rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which former President Obama implemented in 2012.

"If a clean DREAM Act does not come to the floor in September, we are prepared to attach it to other items this fall until it passes," Schumer announced at a press conference with House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and other colleagues.

Alex Bolton has the full story here.

 

Technology: Intel has won a battle in its eight-year fight with the European Union (EU) over a $1.26 billion fine levied against the company.

The EU's enforcement arm, the European Commission, proposed the fine over a number of antitrust disputes involving Intel's alleged market dominance in Europe.

The fine, when it was originally ordered in 2009, was the largest antitrust penalty ever levied by the commission. It was superseded by the $2.7 billion antitrust fine European regulators imposed on Google in June.

The EU General Court is now slated to examine Intel's arguments that it did not violate antitrust laws, raising the possibility the chipmaker coud avoid paying the $1.26 billion in full.

Ali Breland has the story here.

 

Education: Education Secretary Betsy DeVosElizabeth (Betsy) Dee DeVosTrump administration blocked consumer watchdog from public service loan forgiveness program: report Judge warns DeVos: 'I'm not sending anyone to jail yet' but it's an option Students ask judge to hold DeVos in contempt over debt collection MORE is expected to make an announcement on the department's enforcement of federal sex discrimination laws at George Mason University on Thursday.

The Education Department announced Wednesday that DeVos will give a "major policy address on Title IX enforcement" at the university's Arlington, Va., campus beginning at 12:15 p.m.

Citing event insiders, BuzzFeed reported earlier this week that DeVos is expected to announce what the Education Department will do regarding Obama-era directives on campus rape.

Lydia Wheeler has more here.

 

ELSEWHERE IN THE NEWS:

FDA recruits private sector entrepreneurs to support digital health precertification program (Fierce Healthcare)

Pruitt tightens political reins on key operations (E&E News)

Religious groups urge Trump to finalize birth control rule (Axios)

Energy official says Yucca Mountain ball in Congress' court (Las Vegas Review Journal)

 

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