Overnight Regulation: Treasury slams consumer bureau's arbitration rule | EPA considers repealing truck emissions rule | GOP senators offer wildfire management bill

Overnight Regulation: Treasury slams consumer bureau's arbitration rule | EPA considers repealing truck emissions rule | GOP senators offer wildfire management bill
© Keren Carrion

Welcome to Overnight Regulation, your daily rundown of news from the federal agencies, Capitol Hill, the courts and beyond. It's Monday evening and both the House and Senate are in session after alternating weeks in recess.

 

THE BIG STORY: The Treasury Department on Monday criticized the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's (CFPB) rule on arbitration, claiming it would impose "extraordinary costs" with little justification.

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In a report released Monday morning, the department argued that CFPB failed to consider cheaper, more effective options for consumers than the controversial rule.

The report argues that the rule, meant to prevent financial services companies from blocking class-action lawsuits against them, would lead to 3,000 more suits over the next five years. The department claims those class-actions suits would impose more than $500 million in legal defense fees, giving $330 million to plaintiffs' lawyers.

"The Bureau's Rule would upend a century of federal policy favoring freedom of contract to provide for low-cost dispute resolution," the report states.

"An agency implementing such a drastic shift in policy should typically subject its rulemaking to the rigors of cost-benefit analysis and require incremental efficiency justification for more stringent regulations."

Critics of the CFPB rule say it limits cheaper options for both customers and businesses, benefiting trial lawyers instead of consumers.

But supporters say the arbitration rule protects vulnerable consumers from being defrauded by companies without a chance to hold them accountable in court.

The Treasury report is only the latest shot at the rule from Trump administration regulators and comes as GOP lawmakers are attempting to repeal it through the Congressional Review Act.

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Sylvan Lane has the details here.

 

ON TAP FOR TUESDAY

Join us Tuesday, October 24, for America's Opioid Epidemic: Aging & Addiction, featuring Reps. Katherine ClarkKatherine Marlea ClarkSanders, Warren battle for progressive endorsements Democrats ramp up calls for war powers vote after Iran strike Nearly all Democrats expected to back articles of impeachment MORE (D-Mass.) and Markwayne MullinMarkwayne MullinOvernight Energy: Republicans eye top spot on Natural Resources panel | GOP lawmakers push back on bill to make greener refrigerators, air conditioners | Green groups sue Trump over California fracking plans Republicans push back on bipartisan bill to make greener refrigerators, air conditioners Lawmakers beat Capitol Police in Congressional Football Game MORE (R-Okla.). Topics include the opioid epidemic's impact on older Americans, initiatives to curb opioid abuse, and alternative solutions to pain management. RSVP Here

The Senate Banking Committee holds a hearing on Trump nominees. The panel will consider Hester Maria Peirce and Robert J Jackson, Jr. to be members of the Securities and Exchange Commission, and David Ryder to be director of the U.S. Mint.

The House Financial Services Committee holds a hearing on "The Federal Government's Role in the Insurance Industry."

House Oversight subcommittees meet to hear from their regulatory reform task forces.

The House Oversight Subcommittee on Information Technology holds a hearing on tightening rules on disclosures for online political ads.

Bloomberg is hosting an event on tech policy, "Next: The Connected Future."

 

REG ROUNDUP

Mergers: AT&T and Time Warner are extending the deadline for their pending merger as they wait for approval from regulators at the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Both companies agreed to an extension "for a short period of time to facilitate obtaining final regulatory approval required to close the merger," according to a filing AT&T made with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday.

The $85 billion deal had received approval on Wednesday from Brazil, one of the last countries AT&T and Time Warner need to complete the deal. The deal has already been cleared by regulators in Mexico, Chile and Europe.

AT&T still expects the deal to be completed by the end of the year but is waiting to receive clearance from the DOJ. Experts say the agency is likely to approve the deal, citing its tendency to clear vertical mergers between companies in different industries. 

The $85 billion deal would see AT&T one of the nation's telecommunications powerhouses buy Time Warner, an entertainment giant, that includes channels HBO and CNN, and studio Warner Bros.

Ali Breland has more here.

 

Wildfires: Four Republican senators unveiled draft legislation Monday aimed at preventing and mitigating wildfires by making it easier to cut down and remove trees and brush.

The legislation from Sens. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoWhat to watch for on Day 3 of Senate impeachment trial Democrats' impeachment case lands with a thud with GOP — but real audience is voters Restlessness, light rule-breaking and milk spotted on Senate floor as impeachment trial rolls on MORE (Wyo.), Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchKey Republicans say Biden can break Washington gridlock Trump awards Medal of Freedom to racing industry icon Roger Penske Trump holds more Medal of Freedom ceremonies than predecessors but awards fewer medals MORE (Utah), John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneNo. 2 GOP leader eyes Wednesday of next week for possible votes on witnesses Restlessness, light rule-breaking and milk spotted on Senate floor as impeachment trial rolls on Republicans take aim at Nadler for saying GOP senators complicit in 'cover-up' MORE (S.D.) and Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesKoch network could target almost 200 races in 2020, official says GOP senators introduce resolution to change rules, dismiss impeachment without articles Congress to clash over Trump's war powers MORE (Mont.) comes amid a particularly destructive wildfire season in the West, which has led to unprecedented federal aid and congressional attention.

The GOP bill contrasts with a bipartisan wildfire management bill that a handful of senators introduced last week.

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The bill from Barrasso and his colleagues focuses primarily on trying to make it easier to remove wood and brush from forests. Republicans have long complained that land management agencies like the Forest Service have to go through the arduous process of consulting with the Fish and Wildlife Service to allow logging in areas where endangered species live or are nearby. That delays the process of removing wood and brush that contributes to fires.

Provisions of the bill would reduce the obligations of the Forest Service to consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service, direct the Forest Service and Interior Department to create certain exclusions from environmental review for wood and brush removal, call for streamlined environmental reviews for Forest Service restoration projects and test out an arbitration process for groups to challenge permits.

Timothy Cama has the story.

 

Truck emissions: The Trump administration is considering repealing an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule limiting emissions from truck components.

According to an Office of Management and Budget notice, the EPA is formally proposing to repeal the rule, something EPA Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittEPA employees push 'bill of rights' to protect scientific integrity EPA's independent science board questions underpinnings of numerous agency rollbacks Overnight Energy: Rate of new endangered species listings falls | EPA approves use of 'cyanide bombs' to protect livestock | Watchdog says EPA didn't conduct required analyses MORE said in August he would do.

The regulation, an Obama administration effort to cut climate change-causing emissions from the transportation sector, aims to limit pollution from trucks.

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The rule applies to gliders, which are medium- and heavy-duty trucks assembled using refurbished powertrains and new truck parts called "glider kits," which are also subject to the regulation. Obama's EPA aimed to apply emissions standards for new motor vehicles and engines to the refurbished gliders.

But industry groups and the manufacturing sector oppose the rule, saying it would hurt producers and "effectively destroy the glider industry," manufacturers wrote in a petition with the EPA in July.

Devin Henry explains here.

 

Hot air balloons: A bipartisan group of Texas lawmakers unveiled legislation on Monday designed to make hot air balloon operations safer in the wake of a deadly crash in Texas last year.

Reps. Lloyd DoggettLloyd Alton DoggettGreen says House shouldn't hold impeachment articles indefinitely Appeals court strikes ObamaCare mandate, sends case back to lower court House passes sweeping Pelosi bill to lower drug prices MORE (D-Texas), Blake FarentholdRandolph (Blake) Blake FarentholdThe biggest political upsets of the decade Members spar over sexual harassment training deadline Female Dems see double standard in Klobuchar accusations MORE (R-Texas) and Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdThe Hill's Morning Report - House prosecutes Trump as 'lawless,' 'corrupt' House Democrats launch effort to register minority voters in key districts Hurd says Democrats, media are being manipulated by Iran MORE (R-Texas) introduced a measure that would mandate that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) require medical certifications for commercial balloon pilots.

"Because the FAA has failed to act, I am taking action to ensure no more families risk injury or death from unsafe hot-air balloon pilots," Doggett said a statement.

"The FAA should not delegate its responsibility for public safety to a private lobbying group upon which it has thus far relied. Delay risks further disasters. No more balloon tragedies should be required to justify the reasonable safety measures we need," he continued.

Efforts to reform how the hot air balloon industry is regulated have picked up steam since the worst hot air balloon disaster in U.S. history, when a balloon crash left 16 people dead last year.

Alfred Nichols, the lone operator of a small hot air balloon company, was piloting a hot air balloon in unsafe weather conditions near Lockhart, Texas, last summer when he struck high-voltage power lines and plunged into a rural field.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which held a hearing in Washington last week to discuss its investigation's findings, released a scathing report ripping the FAA over the fatal crash.

Melanie Zanona explains here.

 

Retirement savings: President TrumpDonald John TrumpMnuchin knocks Greta Thunberg's activism: Study economics and then 'come back' to us The Hill's Morning Report - House prosecutes Trump as 'lawless,' 'corrupt' What to watch for on Day 3 of Senate impeachment trial MORE on Monday tweeted that changes won't be made to 401(k) plans after reports that congressional Republicans were considering a major alteration to the retirement accounts in forthcoming tax-reform legislation.

"There will be NO change to your 401(k)," Trump tweeted. "This has always been a great and popular middle class tax break that works, and it stays!"

Financial industry stakeholders had heard that lawmakers are considering significantly reducing the amount that people can put into 401(k)s on a pretax basis.

Naomi Jagoda has the details

 

Children's health care: Disagreements over how to pay for an extension of the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) could result in a partisan bill reaching the House floor as soon as this week, a top House Democrat said Monday.

Rep. Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PalloneOvernight Health Care — Presented by That's Medicaid — Deal on surprise medical bills faces obstacles | House GOP unveils rival drug pricing measure ahead of Pelosi vote | Justices to hear case over billions in ObamaCare payments Obstacles remain for deal on surprise medical bills This week: House impeachment inquiry hits crucial stretch MORE (D-N.J.), the ranking member on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said Republicans are insisting that the extension is paid for by cutting other health programs, adding that the bill could get a floor vote in the House on Thursday.

Representatives for House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions Cheney's decision not to run for Senate sparks Speaker chatter Mark Mellman: A failure of GOP leadership MORE (R-Calif.) did not respond to a request to confirm the schedule.

The proposed legislation would extend funding for CHIP for five years while phasing out ObamaCare's funding boost to the program. It would also extend funding for community health centers for two years, and provide $1 billion to help with Puerto Rico's looming Medicaid crisis.

Nathaniel Weixel has more.

 

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