Overnight Regulation: Reg task forces tout work on cutting rules | Senate GOP races to repeal consumer arbitration rule | House passes bill to combat flow of opioids into US

Overnight Regulation: Reg task forces tout work on cutting rules | Senate GOP races to repeal consumer arbitration rule | House passes bill to combat flow of opioids into US
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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 Tuesday night, President TrumpDonald John TrumpFed saw risks to US economy fading before coronavirus spread quickened Pro-Trump super PAC hits Biden with new Spanish-language ad in Nevada Britain announces immigration policy barring unskilled migrants MORE lunched with Senate Republicans and Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeMcSally ties Democratic rival Kelly to Sanders in new ad McSally launches 2020 campaign Sinema will vote to convict Trump MORE (R-Ariz.) announced he won't seek re-election and torched president in a floor speech.

 

THE BIG STORY

Officials testified before a House Oversight joint subcommittee on Tuesday on the progress being made by regulatory task forces ordered by President Trump to find existing rules to repeal.

Lawmakers heard from the Defense Department, Transportation Department and General Services Administration.

The Pentagon claimed to have found 88 rules for potential repeal, while the Department of Transportation expects half of all its rulemakings in 2018 to be deregulatory actions.

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The task forces are the result of a February executive order in which Trump directed agencies to find two regulations to rescind for every new rule issued.

Republicans hailed the effort... Committee Republicans praised Trump for pushing agencies to clean house.

"This kind of kick in the pants change to our out-of-control regulatory footprint was badly needed," said Rep. Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsLawmakers grill Census Bureau officials after report on cybersecurity issues Conservative lawmakers warn Pelosi about 'rate-setting' surprise billing fix House GOP leader says reassignment of Vindman was appropriate MORE (R-N.C.).

 

But Democrats blasted the work... Committee Democrats expressed concerns about the task forces' levels of transparency. Rep. Robin KellyRobin Lynne KellyLawmakers with first-hand experience using food stamps call on Trump not to cut program Hillicon Valley: FCC moves against Huawei, ZTE | Dem groups ask Google to reconsider ads policy | Bill introduced to increase data access during probes Dems call out Oracle for lack of diversity on its board MORE (D-Ill.) said Congress has yet to even learn who is on the task forces. 

"These task forces appear to be filled with industry lobbyists acting on behalf of special interests and agencies are moving to repeal regulations that benefit industry with little regard to the health and safety of the public," she said.

"It is also unclear with whom these task forces are meeting, whether they are balancing the interests of industry with those of consumers and other parties, and which rules these task forces have recommended for repeal."

Read the rest from Lydia Wheeler.

 

ON TAP FOR WEDNESDAY:

A House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee holds an FCC oversight hearing.  Expect Democrats to grill FCC Chairman Ajit Pai on President Trump's recent tweets on revoking the licenses of critical media stations.

The House Natural Resources Committee holds a hearing on "empowering states in sage grouse management."

The House Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance holds a hearing on private sector views on housing finance reform.

The full House Financial Services Committee also picks up its work with another hearing on the massive Equifax data breach.

 

REGULATORY ROUNDUP

Finance: Senate Republicans are looking to repeal a controversial consumer bureau rule banning companies from using forced settlements to resolve disputes with customers.

GOP senators aim to vote to repeal the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's (CFPB) rule on forced arbitration before a window to do so with only 51 votes closes this week.

Republicans are attempting to shore up enough votes from their slim majority to repeal the CFPB rule under the Congressional Review Act, which gives lawmakers 60 legislative days to repeal an executive branch rule after it is finalized.

Background: The House has already passed a repeal resolution, and Senate Republican aides said Tuesday that the upper chamber could vote to nix the rule within days.

The CFPB in July issued a rule that bans banks and credit card companies from writing clauses into customer contracts that protect the firms from class-action lawsuits. So-called forced arbitration clauses require customers to resolve any disputes with the firm through a third-party mediator, and bans them from suing the company.

The Hill's Sylvan Lane has the story.

 

Courts: The Supreme Court handed President Trump a victory Tuesday when it tossed out the remaining case challenging his travel ban.

The court issued an order dismissing the lawsuit brought by the state of Hawaii challenging the 90-day travel ban on nationals from six majority-Muslim countries and the 120-day halt on the U.S. refugee resettlement program, claiming the case is now moot.

Because the 90-day ban expired on Sept. 24 and the 120-day ban expired on Tuesday, the court said there is no longer a "live case or controversy."

The Supreme Court had already largely ruled in Trump's favor.

In June, the court reinstated the ban after it was blocked by a lower court, though it exempted people traveling to the United States who could show they had a bona fide relationship to a person to entity in the U.S.

Lydia Wheeler has the details.

 

Opioids: The House passed a bill to stem the flow of illegal importation of powerful synthetic opioids into the country.

Legislation to beef up U.S. Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) ability to detect attempts to smuggle opioids into the country passed in the House on Tuesday 412-3. The bill would authorize $9 million to ensure the CBP has chemical screening devices, scientists and other personnel available to detect the illegal importation of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids.

"The federal government must do its part to ensure our first responders have the tools they need in this greatest of public health fights," said Rep. Niki TsongasNicola (Niki) Sauvage TsongasMassachusetts New Members 2019 Dem House candidate says she'll file Clarence Thomas impeachment resolution if elected Lawmakers demand action, hearing in response to VA improperly denying sexual trauma claims MORE (D-Mass.), who authored the legislation with Rep. Brian FitzpatrickBrian K. FitzpatrickDemocrats bullish on bill to create women's history museum: 'It's an election year' This week: Trump's budget lands with a thud on Capitol Hill House approves pro-union labor bill MORE (R-Pa.).

Cristina Marcos reports.

 

Technology: The Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday voted to eliminate a rule requiring television and radio broadcasters to maintain studios in the communities they serve.

The FCC passed the proposal in a 3-2, party-line vote. Republicans argued that the nearly 80-year-old rule was outdated, given that consumers can access news about their communities online.

"The record shows that main studios are no longer needed to enable broadcasters to be responsive to their communities of license," FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement. "That's because the public these days is much more likely to interact with stations (including accessing stations' public files) online. Additionally, technology allows broadcast stations to produce local news even without a nearby studio."

But critics said that eliminating the requirement would undermine local news coverage across the country.

Read Harper Neidig's piece here.

 

More from FCC: The agency also voted to allow law enforcement access to blocked caller IDs in cases of anonymous phone threats.

With the new rule, law enforcement will no longer have to apply for temporary waivers when probing threats from anonymous callers.

The proposal stems from a temporary waiver that the agency granted to authorities investigating a wave of bomb threats against Jewish community centers earlier this year.

More from Harper.

 

Environment: The effects of climate change are already costing the federal government hundreds of billions of dollars, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found.

In a report released late Monday, the GAO tallied the total cost of disaster assistance and flood and crop insurance losses at $350 billion over the last decade, not including the most recent hurricanes and wildfires.

Climate change-linked phenomena like droughts, wildfires, flooding and storms are projected to dramatically increase those costs in the coming decades, possibly by as much as $35 billion per year by 2050, according to the GAO, the watchdog agency of Congress.

Timothy Cama reports.

 

Business: A small Montana company located in Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeInternational hunting council disbands amid litigation Europe deepens energy dependence on Russia Overnight Energy: House Science Committee hits EPA with subpoenas | California sues EPA over Trump revoking emissions waiver | Interior disbands board that floated privatization at national parks MORE's hometown has signed a $300 million contract to help get the power back on in Puerto Rico, The Washington Post reported.

Whitefish Energy had only two full-time employees on the day Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, according to the Post. The company signed the contract -- the largest yet issued to help restore Puerto Rico -- with the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) to fix the island's electrical infrastructure.

The company now has 280 workers on the island, the Post reported, a majority of whom are subcontractors.

A former senior official at the Energy Department and state regulatory agencies said it was "odd" that Whitefish Energy would be chosen.

Read the rest from Rebecca Savransky.

 

More on the deal... Dems call for probe: House Democrats are pushing for an investigation into a contract signed by a small Montana-based energy company to help restore Puerto Rico's electrical grid.

Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), the ranking member on the House Natural Resources Committee, said Democrats have "pushed for a full investigation of some sort" into Whitefish Energy's agreement to repair Puerto Rico's hurricane-damaged energy infrastructure.

"I think there's more digging to be done," Grijalva said Tuesday. "We're looking at it; we pushed for a full investigation of some sort."

Read more from Devin Henry here.

Environment Protection Agency: Security expenses at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are increasing to "an unprecedented level," according to a report published by CNN.

The EPA is adding security personnel for its administrator, Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy: Controversial Trump adviser reportedly returning to EPA | Delta aims to be first carbon neutral airline | Dem senator gives EPA D-minus on 'forever chemicals' Architect of controversial EPA policies to return as chief of staff: report EPA asked to justify proposal to limit power of its science advisers MORE, the report said, citing more threats against him than individuals who held the Cabinet position in prior administrations.

Salaries for Pruitt's security personnel will total $2 million alone, the network calculated.

A spokeswoman for the agency declined to comment when asked about the increased costs.

Mallory Shelbourne has the story.

 

More EPA: Senate Democrats said Tuesday that a controversial Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) nominee could be circumventing the requirement that he be confirmed by the Senate.

The accusation was made in a letter that all 10 Democrats on the Environment and Public Works Committee sent to Michael Dourson, the nominee to be the EPA's top chemical safety regulator, outlining "several concerns" with his status at the agency.

Dourson has not gotten a vote either in the Environment Committee or in the full Senate. But last week he started working at the EPA as an adviser to EPA chief Scott Pruitt.

Timothy Cama explains the controversy.

 

Travel: A new round of aviation security measures is expected to be in place by Thursday or airlines may face a ban on laptops in the flight cabin, according to Reuters.

The stricter screening standards for all U.S.-bound flights, which could include short security interviews with passengers, are part of the Trump administration's efforts to beef up aviation security in the face of evolving terrorism threats.

The new measures are expected to impact about 2,000 commercial flights that arrive daily in the U.S. from 105 different countries, Reuters reported.

The U.S. unveiled a new aviation security plan this summer, with the various requirements being rolled out in stages. Airlines with direct flights to the U.S. must comply with the new standards in order to avoid a ban on large electronics in the flight cabin.

Melanie Zanona has more here.

 

ALSO IN THE NEWS:

Trump's 'energy independence' order: Where do things stand (E&E News)

Is regulation ahead for giants of tech? (The Wall Street Journal)

FAA probes second Air Canada emergency landing (Reuters)

Facebook dealt setback by EU court adviser in privacy dispute (Reuters)