Overnight Regulation: DOJ cracks down on synthetic opioids | EPA moves to roll back truck emission rules | Top air regulator confirmed | AT&T denies feds pushed CNN sale

Overnight Regulation: DOJ cracks down on synthetic opioids | EPA moves to roll back truck emission rules | Top air regulator confirmed | AT&T denies feds pushed CNN sale
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Welcome to Overnight Regulations, your daily rundown of news from the federal agencies, Capitol Hill and the courts. It's Thursday evening here in Washington where the GOP tax bill is now headed to the House floor for a vote next week.

Read about that here



The Department of Justice announced Thursday that it's cracking down on potent synthetic opioids by temporarily scheduling all fentanyl-related substances on an emergency basis. 

As Rachel Roubein reports, that classification will let prosecutors charge people trafficking substances similar to fentanyl with the same charges as fentanyl, which is up to 50 times more potent than heroin.  


A Drug Enforcement Administration official told reporters that Fentanyl -- and its analogues -- are part of a growing problem in the United States when it comes to opioid deaths.

Overseas chemical manufacturers have been trying to alter the chemical structure of fentanyl being sent to the United States to evade the Controlled Substances Act. That also makes it harder for prosecutors to convict drug traffickers.

Find the full story here



Environment: The Trump administration is proposing to repeal a key piece of former President Obama's regulation limiting greenhouse gas emissions from big trucks.

The proposal unveiled Thursday by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would remove so-called glider kits from a major regulation written last year that restricted emissions from heavy-duty trucks.

Glider kits are incomplete truck bodies that owners -- frequently small businesses or individual truck drivers -- can buy and install with older engines, transmissions and axles to form complete trucks.

Timothy Cama has the story here


Transportation: The Senate on Thursday advanced President TrumpDonald John TrumpNew EPA rule would expand Trump officials' powers to reject FOIA requests Democratic senator introduces bill to ban gun silencers Democrats: Ex-Commerce aide said Ross asked him to examine adding census citizenship question MORE's pick for the No. 3 spot at the Department of Transportation (DOT), despite protests from Northeast Democrats who want the White House to fund rail-and-tunnel projects in their region.

In a 87-9 vote, senators agreed to invoke cloture and end debate on the nomination of Derek Kan to be undersecretary of transportation for policy at the DOT. The Senate will vote to confirm him on Monday.

Melanie Zanona has the story here


Environment: The Senate on Thursday confirmed William Wehrum to head the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Office of Air and Radiation, making him one of the most powerful officials in the agency.

Wehrum became only the second of President Trump's EPA nominees to secure Senate confirmation. Senators approved his nomination on a 49-47 vote.

Democrats and environmentalists lined up against Wehrum's nomination, noting both his legal career and a controversial tenure at the EPA under President George W. Bush.

Devin Henry has the story here


Mergers: AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson on Thursday denied reports that the Justice Department wanted CNN sold as a condition for allowing a merger between the telecom giant and Time Warner.

"First and foremost, irrespective of what you read yesterday, I have never been told that the price of getting the deal done was selling CNN. Period," Stephenson said at The New York Times' Dealbook Conference.

"And likewise, I have never offered to sell CNN," he continued, adding that the news network is at the center of his company's business strategy.

"I don't even know who in the DOJ is saying these things," said Stephenson.

Justice Department sources told The Hill and other outlets on Wednesday that AT&T had offered to sell CNN from the combined company to get the merger approved by regulators. Other outlets reported that the Justice Department had demanded the sale.

Stephenson's comments on Thursday added a third version of what transpired during a meeting on Monday between AT&T and the Justice Department's antitrust division.

Harper Neidig explains here.


Energy: Alaska Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiGOP lawmakers want Mulvaney sidelined in budget talks Overnight Defense: Officials brief Congress after Iran shoots down drone | Lawmakers fear 'grave situation' | Trump warns Iran | Senate votes to block Saudi arms sales | Bombshell confession at Navy SEAL's murder trial The 7 GOP senators who voted to block all or part of Trump's Saudi arms sale MORE (R) unveiled legislation Wednesday that would, for the first time, open part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) for oil and natural gas drilling.

The legislation would require only a 51-vote majority in the Senate, instead of the usual 60 votes, because it is written under the auspices of Congress's 2018 budget resolution.

The proposal opens a significant new step in the decades-old debate around ANWR drilling, which has energized and mobilized generations of environmentalists while serving as a perennially tempting development opportunity for the oil industry and Alaskans.

Drilling would be limited to 1.5 million-acre coastal plain, known as the 1002 area, in the northeastern part of Alaska.

The Interior Department would be required under the legislation to hold at least two sales for drilling rights leases within 10 years.

Timothy Cama has the story here.


Tech: Google said on Thursday that it would support the Federal Election Commission (FEC) implementing new disclosure rules for online political ads.

In a filing to the FEC, the internet giant argued that advertisers and online platforms could use clearer regulations for what information needs to be disclosed on political ads and what types of ads require disclosures.

"While the majority of advertisers placing election-related ads on Google now self-impose some form of disclaimer on their ads, advertisers still lack the much needed regulatory framework that will let them know whether the disclaimers they're using on today's ads meet the Commission's requirements," the filing reads.
Lawmakers and regulators are examining how to make online political advertising more transparent after Google, Twitter and Facebook all admitted to selling political ads to Russian actors trying to sway the outcome of last year's presidential election.

Read more from Harper here.



Judge rules DACA recipients have due process rights – The Washington Times

Private prisons lock up thousands of Americans with almost no oversight – Time 

A new study compared to opioids and over-the-counter painkillers in ERs. Opioids don't do so well – Vox

Former Capitol Hill staffers demand reforms for reporting sexual harassment – The Washington Examiner 

Opinion: Mandatory minimums wrong strategy for opioid epidemic – Barry Grissom