Overnight Regulation: Lawmakers nearing deal to ease bank regs | EPA to limit settlements with green groups | Trump promises action on drug prices

Overnight Regulation: Lawmakers nearing deal to ease bank regs | EPA to limit settlements with green groups | Trump promises action on drug prices
© Getty Images

Welcome to Overnight Regulation, your daily rundown of news from the federal agencies, Capitol Hill, the courts and beyond. It's Monday evening and the Senate is back in town after a week off, while the House is out. President TrumpDonald John TrumpAverage tax refunds down double-digits, IRS data shows White House warns Maduro as Venezuela orders partial closure of border with Colombia Trump administration directs 1,000 more troops to Mexican border MORE held a press conference with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellKids confront Feinstein over Green New Deal Trump selects Kelly Craft for United Nations ambassador Union leader says Green New Deal would make infrastructure bill ‘absolutely impossible’ MORE (R-Ky.) from the Rose Garden, and called their relationship "outstanding."

 

THE BIG STORY: Top White House economic adviser Gary CohnGary David CohnChristie: Trump doesn’t give nicknames to people he respects On The Money: Congress pivots to prevent another shutdown | Trump hits Venezuelan oil company with sanctions | US criminal charges filed against Huawei | Next round of China trade talks set | Forecasts raise doubt on Trump’s economic goals Gary Cohn joked about sending Trump to help Brexit talks: report MORE said Monday that Congress could act to exempt major United States banks from tight Dodd-Frank Act banking rules by the end of 2017.

Cohn, speaking to a banking industry conference in Chicago, said the White House and lawmakers from both parties are nearing an agreement to raise the threshold at which a bank is considered a "systemically important financial institution," or "SIFI." Such banks are subject to stricter federal oversight and higher stability standards.

ADVERTISEMENT

Cohn said that the new SIFI threshold could be raised to at least $200 billion from its current $50 billion level.

"We need to move those capital levels back to more rational levels," Cohn, director of the White House's National Economic Council, told the American Banking Association conference.

The law: Passed after the 2008 financial crisis, Dodd-Frank requires tougher federal oversight of the nation's banking system. It creates increasing levels of federal oversight and higher capital requirements for banks. The rules are meant to ensure that banks do not fail and trigger a crisis.

Banks with more than $10 billion in assets face stricter inspections from federal regulators, and banks with more than $250 billion face even tighter requirements.

The concerns: The banking industry has long complained that the $50 billion SIFI threshold is an arbitrary level that includes banks too small to make a major dent on the global economy. Raising the SIFI level above $50 billion would exempt several U.S. regional banks from regulations they say stifle their ability to lend to worthy customers.

Sylvan Lane has the details here.

 

ON TAP FOR TUESDAY

The Senate Health Committee holds a hearing on the cost of prescription drugs, specifically "How the Drug Delivery System Affects What Patients Pay."

The Senate Banking Committee holds a hearing on data security.

Bloomberg Government hosts an event on "The Future of Multifamily Housing: Building Access and Affordability."

 

REG ROUNDUP

Environment: The Trump administration's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is pledging to crack down on settlements with green groups that sue the agency.

"The days of regulation through litigation are over," EPA Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittEPA knows this pesticide is dangerous, so why did it reverse the ban? Archives investigation finds no ‘secret' Pruitt calendars existed California has sued the Trump administration 46 times. Here are the lawsuits MORE said in a statement on Monday announcing a new policy that seeks to increase transparency in the process through which the agency settles regulatory lawsuits with environmentalists and other outside groups.

"We will no longer go behind closed doors and use consent decrees and settlement agreements to resolve lawsuits filed against the agency by special interest groups where doing so would circumvent the regulatory process set forth by Congress," Pruitt said, adding that he is also cracking down on attorneys' fees paid to litigants.

Under Pruitt's new directive, the agency will post all lawsuits online, reach out to affected states and industries and seek their input on any potential settlements.

The EPA is pledging to avoid settlements that would make for a rushed regulatory process, or that obligate the agency to take actions that the federal courts do not have the authority to force.

Read more here.

 

Technology: The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear the Department of Justice (DOJ)'s challenge in an ongoing legal battle over whether data stored by American companies overseas is covered by a U.S. warrant.

The Supreme Court disclosed in its order list released on Monday that it will take up the case, U.S. v. Microsoft, in which federal investigators sought data from Microsoft that was stored on servers in Ireland.

The case hinges on whether a U.S. warrant can compel American companies to turn over data stored on servers outside the United States. A lower court ruled last year that it does not, meaning that the DOJ needs to follow the same procedures used to obtain physical evidence stored outside the United States.

In December 2013, the U.S. government issued a warrant tied to an ongoing criminal narcotics investigation to seize data contained in an email account of a Microsoft customer. Microsoft refused to turn over the emails associated with the account, which were stored on servers in Ireland, spurring a legal battle that has dragged on for four years.

The DOJ filed a motion to take the case to the Supreme Court in June. The landmark case has spurred debate among lawmakers in Washington about how to update current laws governing data privacy and law enforcement access to data across national borders.

Read more here

 

Finance: The chairman of the House Financial Services Committee is praising Education Secretary Betsy DeVosElizabeth (Betsy) Dee DeVosWest Virginia teachers just struck against a windfall for public schools Students call on DeVos to offer free tampons, pads in schools to address 'period poverty' DeVos recovering from broken pelvis, hip socket after bicycle accident MORE for scaling back plans to work with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to crack down on predatory student lenders.

Chairman Jeb HensarlingThomas (Jeb) Jeb HensarlingThe next two years of federal housing policy could be positive under Mark Calabria Why Ocasio-Cortez should make flood insurance reform a priority Exiting lawmakers jockey for K Street perch MORE (R-Texas) in a letter to DeVos called it a "necessary and appropriate" step to curb the consumer bureau's "overreach into the education field."

Hensarling is one of the consumer agency's fiercest critics.

The Education Department cancelled agreements with the CFPB in August, claiming the bureau "unilaterally expand[ed] its oversight role to include the Department's contracted federal loan servicers." The department called CFPB's actions "characteristic of an overreaching and unaccountable agency."

The consumer agency has pushed back on DeVos's claims. The agency said the Education Department didn't express any concerns before canceling the partnership. CFPB Director Richard CordrayRichard Adams CordrayOn The Money: Consumer bureau proposes scrapping borrower safeguards from payday loan rule | Negotiators running out of time to avert shutdown | Trump nominates World Bank critic as its next chief Consumer bureau proposes scrapping borrower safeguards from payday loan rule Supreme Court should do what Congress won’t: Rein in the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection MORE defended his agency's work in a lengthy response to DeVos, asking her to reconsider the decision. 

Read more here.

 

Health care: President Trump on Monday attacked prescription drug companies and hinted at taking action to bring down rising drug prices.

"We are going to get prescription drug prices way down because the world is taking advantage of us," Trump said during a wide-ranging press conference.

He noted the same drug sold outside the U.S. sometimes costs a fraction of what it does in the U.S.

"The same exact pill from the same company, same box, same everything, is a tiny fraction of what it costs in the United States," Trump said.

Earlier in the day, Trump told Cabinet members that drug companies were " frankly getting away with murder," a phrase he first used on the campaign trail.

The administration has yet to take any substantive action on drug prices, but officials floated a draft executive order over the summer that would have lowered regulatory barriers for drug companies in order to increase competition.

Read more here.

 

Environment: A conservative think tank is raising concerns about an Energy Department plan to help boost coal and nuclear power.

An analyst for the American Action Forum said the proposal, announced this month by Energy Secretary Rick PerryJames (Rick) Richard PerryDems open new front against Trump The Hill's 12:30 Report: State of the Union takeaways | Sights and sounds from the night | Virginia attorney general admits he wore blackface Energy Secretary Rick Perry is designated survivor for 2019 State of the Union MORE, aims to address a "real problem" with "not the best solution."

Perry's proposal aims to prop up coal and nuclear plants by mandating higher payments for their electricity, arguing the two power sources are able to store so much of their fuel on site that they help support the reliability and resilience of the electric grid.

But Philip Rossetti, an AAF data analyst, said the plan "does not promote a policy that would necessarily achieve" a more stable electricity system, and instead would "arbitrarily value nuclear and coal power above their market rates."

More on the debate here

 

Health care: President Trump said he was going to take a Washington Post and "60 Minutes" joint investigation "very seriously" after both news outlets published reports suggesting his pick for drug czar led efforts to weaken enforcement of drug policing laws.

Trump also said his administration would be officially declaring the opioid epidemic a national emergency next week. It's been more than two months since Trump said his administration was drafting paperwork to do so.

Trump said he saw the in-depth news reports released Sunday, which detailed legislation that reportedly weakened the Drug Enforcement Administration's authority to halt drug distributors while the nation faces a major opioid epidemic.

Rep. Tom MarinoThomas (Tom) Anthony MarinoPennsylvania governor sets special election date for GOP Marino’s seat The Hill's Morning Report — Nasty shutdown fight gets nastier GOP Rep. Tom Marino resigns from Congress MORE (R-Pa.), whom Trump nominated in early September to head the Office of National Drug Control Policy, was reportedly the lead advocate for the legislation.

Trump called Marino -- an early backer of Trump -- a "good man," adding he hadn't spoken to Marino on Monday. Marino hasn't had a confirmation hearing in the Senate, and Senate Judiciary Committee aides said his paperwork has not been completed.

The reports drew quick backlash from Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinOvernight Energy: Trump ends talks with California on car emissions | Dems face tough vote on Green New Deal | Climate PAC backing Inslee in possible 2020 run Dems face tough vote on Green New Deal Gabbard cites ‘concerns’ about ‘vagueness’ of Green New Deal MORE (D-W.Va.), whose home state has been hit particularly hard by the opioid epidemic. Manchin asked Trump to withdraw Marino's nomination in a letter sent Monday.

Read more here.

 

Health care: Negotiations on a bipartisan bill to fund the popular Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) have made little progress, a top House Republican said Monday.

Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg WaldenGregory (Greg) Paul WaldenDems ready aggressive response to Trump emergency order, as GOP splinters Former Ryan aide moves to K street Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Lawmakers pay tribute to John Dingell's legacy on health care | White House denies officials are sabotaging ObamaCare | FDA wants meeting with Juul, Altria execs on youth vaping MORE (R-Ore.) said Democrats have not made a counteroffer on paying for an extension of the program.

"Despite Ranking Member [Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PalloneOvernight Health Care — Presented by National Taxpayers Union — Trump bans abortion providers from family planning program | White House doesn't back GOP governor on drug imports | HHS declines to provide witnesses for family separations hearing Overnight Health Care — Presented by National Taxpayers Union — Top Dems call for end to Medicaid work rules | Chamber launching ad blitz against Trump drug plan | Google offers help to dispose of opioids Top Dems call for end to Medicaid work rules after 18,000 lose coverage in Arkansas MORE's (D-N.J.)] statement calling for renewed bipartisan negotiations nearly two weeks ago, we have yet to receive a single counteroffer from our Democratic colleagues," Walden said in a statement.

"If Democrats are serious about funding these important programs, I call on them to follow through on their offer for renewed negotiations. There is too much at stake for partisan games and gridlock."

The Energy and Commerce Committee passed a bill extending funding for the program earlier this month with no Democratic support.

Read more here

 

Gun control: Rep. Scott TaylorScott William TaylorEx-GOP Rep. Ryan Costello joins group pushing carbon tax Virginia New Members 2019 Overnight Defense — Presented by Raytheon — First lady's office pushes for ouster of national security aide | Trump taps retired general as ambassador to Saudis | Mattis to visit border troops | Record number of female veterans to serve in Congress MORE (R-Va.) in an interview broadcast Sunday said the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) should re-evaluate bump stocks in the wake of last week's mass shooting in Las Vegas.

"I think that should be re-evaluated," Taylor told ABC News's "This Week" during an interview focusing on gun legislation with Rep. Seth MoultonSeth Wilbur MoultonDem lawmaker: 'Trump's presidency is the real national emergency' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the American Academy of HIV Medicine - All eyes on Trump after lawmakers reach spending deal Overnight Defense: Acting Pentagon chief visits Afghanistan | US, Taliban peace talks intensify | Trump tweets in Persian to send message to Iran | Defense world pays tribute to Walter Jones MORE (D-Mass.).

"I'm not willing to impede on someone's rights just because of emotional rhetoric," Taylor said in the interview.

The conversation between the two congressmen comes amid an ongoing debate on the bump stock devices, which were found in the hotel room of the suspected Las Vegas shooter after the attack. The device can be used to increase the rate of fire in semi-automatic weapons.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) last week said bump stocks "should be subject to additional regulations," though it stopped short of calling for new legislation on guns.

Read more here

  

ALSO IN THE NEWS

PBS: Birth control loophole opens for employers under new federal regulation

The Independent: Op-ed: Scandals within the tech industry show regulation is necessary

AM New York: 'Juul' e-cigarettes require stronger FDA regulation, Schumer says

Reuters: US judge invalidates Allergan patents on Restasis

Reuters: Wells Fargo brokerage to return $3.4 million for risky products