Overnight Regulation: Trump orders tariffs on solar panel imports | Supreme Court rules against Trump on clean water rule | Montana implements net neutrality rules

Overnight Regulation: Trump orders tariffs on solar panel imports | Supreme Court rules against Trump on clean water rule | Montana implements net neutrality rules
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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 Monday evening and the government is ready to reopen after a three-day shutdown. Democrats agreed to help advance a short-term spending deal Monday after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellProfessional sports players associations come out against coronavirus liability protections Democratic leaders report 'some progress' in talks with White House Top GOP senator urges agencies to protect renters, banks amid coronavirus aid negotiations MORE (R-Ky.) promised to let an immigration bill reach the floor next month.

House members are now leaving for a scheduled recess, while the Senate is sticking around for the week.

 

THE BIG STORY: President TrumpDonald John TrumpWhite House sued over lack of sign language interpreters at coronavirus briefings Wife blames Trump, lack of masks for husband's coronavirus death in obit: 'May Karma find you all' Trump authorizes reduced funding for National Guard coronavirus response through 2020 MORE on Monday imposed tariffs of 30 percent on imported solar panel technology in a bid to protect domestic manufacturers while signaling a more aggressive approach toward China.

The tariffs apply to all imported solar photovoltaic cells and modules, the main technology on panels that convert solar energy into electricity.

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While it is targeted at imports from China, Trump's tariffs apply to all imports, since Chinese manufacturers have moved operations to other countries.

"The president's action makes clear again that the Trump administration will always defend American workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses in this regard," U.S. Trade Representative Robert LighthizerRobert (Bob) Emmet LighthizerGOP senator warns quick vote on new NAFTA would be 'huge mistake' Pelosi casts doubt on USMCA deal in 2019 Pelosi sounds hopeful on new NAFTA deal despite tensions with White House MORE said in a statement Monday announcing the decision along with a decision to impose tariffs on imported washers.

The move is the first major tariff decision Trump has made unilaterally in office. Through his presidential campaign and his first year in office, Trump repeatedly promised to aggressively go after China and other nations that he feels conduct unfair trade practices and hurt domestic industries.

The tariff falls to 25 percent after a year, and then 20 percent and 15 percent each year after, before phasing out entirely. The first 2.5 gigawatts of imports each year are exempt.

Timothy Cama has more on the decision here.

 

ON TAP FOR TUESDAY

A Senate Commerce subcommittee holds a hearing on "Surface Transportation Security: Addressing Current and Emerging Threats." Lawmakers will hear from the head of the Transportation Security Administration.

The CATO Institute holds a discussion on "Opportunities for Reform in 2018: The Domestic Agenda."

The Senate Health Committee holds a hearing on 21st century public health threats.

The Heritage Foundation holds an event on President Trump's antitrust policy.

The Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee holds an oversight hearing on the performance of the electric grid during recent extreme weather events.

The Senate Banking Committee holds a hearing for three financial regulatory nominees, including Jelena McWilliams for chairwoman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation; Marvin Goodfriend for governor of the Federal Reserve board; and Thomas Workman for the Financial Stability Oversight Council.

 

REG ROUNDUP

Environment: In a hit to the Trump administration, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled Monday that cases litigating the Clean Water Act should be heard by federal district courts.

The administration had argued those cases should be heard in federal appeals courts.

The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case over an Obama-era regulation, known as the Waters of the United States rule, back in January 2017, after debate on whether the U.S. Court of Appeals or federal district courts had the authority to hear lawsuits from industry groups and states challenging the rule.

Dozens of parties had filed lawsuits over the regulation in both federal appeals courts and district courts.

Protection Agency's (EPA) permitting authority. 

Miranda Green has the story here.

 

Marijuana: Vermont will become the latest state to allow the possession of marijuana for recreational purposes under a new measure signed into law Monday by Gov. Phil Scott (R).

The measure brings the number of states where recreational marijuana is legal to seven. But the Vermont bill is notable because it is the first time a state legislature has voted to legalize the drug.

The other six states where adults may legally possess and consume marijuana -- Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Nevada and California -- all arrived at legalization through voter-approved ballot measures.

Massachusetts and Maine will legalize marijuana later this year after voters passed ballot initiatives in 2016. The Vermont law takes effect on July 1.

Read Reid Wilson's coverage here.

 

Tech: Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) signed an executive order on Monday requiring internet service providers with state contracts to abide by net neutrality principles.

The order makes his state the first to push back on the Federal Communications Commission's decision to repeal the open internet rules last month.

"There has been a lot of talk around the country about how to respond to the recent decision by the Federal Communications Commission to repeal net neutrality rules, which keep the internet free and open. It's time to actually do something about it," Bullock said in a statement.

"This is a simple step states can take to preserve and protect net neutrality. We can't wait for folks in Washington DC to come to their senses and reinstate these rules."

The order says that to receive a contract with the state government, internet service providers must not engage in blocking or throttling web content or create internet fast lanes. Those practices were all banned under the Obama-era 2015 net neutrality order.

Harper Neidig has more here.

 

Energy: President Trump made it clear to Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeTrump flails as audience dwindles and ratings plummet OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Senior Interior official contacted former employer, violating ethics pledge: watchdog | Ag secretary orders environmental rollbacks for Forest Service | Senate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Senior Interior official contacted former employer, violating ethics pledge: watchdog MORE that he was upset by the decision to exempt Florida from expanded offshore drilling, Axios reported Sunday.

Zinke did not coordinate with anyone, including the White House, before making his decision, and the move has likely hurt Zinke's image within the administration, Axios reported.

However, sources told the news outlet the issue has not ruined Zinke's relationship with Trump.

Zinke said earlier this month that he won't allow offshore drilling in waters near Florida through 2024.

The decision came after Zinke met with Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) in Tallahassee earlier in the day to discuss the governor's objections. It was a day after Zinke proposed opening nearly all of the nation's coasts to drilling.

Since then, numerous other lawmakers from coastal states -- including New Hampshire, Washington, New York and California -- have asked for a similar exemption.

Brett Samuels has the story here.

 

Tech: The federal government is taking steps to reduce the presence of some Chinese technology firms in American markets.

Earlier this month, AT&T scrapped a deal with Chinese phone maker Huawei, reportedly as a result of pressure from anonymous U.S. lawmakers who cited national security concerns. Reuters reported this week that lawmakers are now pressing AT&T to sever all of its commercial ties with Huawei.

And the White House blocked two acquisitions of American companies by Chinese firms in recent months, also citing "national security concerns."

Lawmakers reportedly are pushing to keep Chinese telecommunications firm China Mobile out of the U.S. for similar reasons.

The efforts come on the heels of a federal ban on anti-virus software produced by Russia's Kaspersky Lab, and underscore heightened concerns in Washington about privacy and spying threats.

 Ali Breland and Morgan Chalfant have the info here.

 

Health care: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) is looking to stabilize the state's ObamaCare marketplace after Republicans failed to repeal and replace the law last year.

"Their failure to act on this issue is yet another call for us to step up and lead," Walker told the Wisconsin State Journal.

"I wanted to get premiums for that individual market more compatible with where the group insurance premiums are."

Walker said he will seek federal permission to set up a reinsurance program, which provides payments to plans that cover higher-cost enrollees in an effort to lower premiums for everyone else.

Jessie Hellmann has the story.

 

Security: The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) on Monday issued harsher screening rules for cargo traveling to the United States from five Middle Eastern countries due to terrorism concerns.

The agency will apply stricter screening rules for six airline carriers moving cargo to the U.S. from Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

"These countries were chosen because of a demonstrated intent by terrorist groups to attack aviation from them," the agency said.

 Mallory Shelbourne reports.

 

Environment: Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke approved a land-transfer deal Monday to allow Alaska to build a road through a federal wildlife refuge in the southwestern part of the state.

The action closes a major chapter in a fight that has stretched more than three decades and became a top priority for Alaska, including Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann Murkowski300 green groups say Senate has 'moral duty' to reject Trump's public lands nominee Senate GOP divided over whether they'd fill Supreme Court vacancy  On The Money: Unemployment benefits to expire as coronavirus talks deadlock | Meadows, Pelosi trade criticism on stalled stimulus talks | Coronavirus recession hits Social Security, Medicare, highway funding MORE (R), who is chairwoman of the committees overseeing both Interior Department policies and its budget.

The gravel, one-lane road would cut through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, connecting the remote community of King Cove to Cold Bay. Locals and Alaska leaders say it's necessary to link King Cove to a large, all-weather airport, mostly for medical evacuations in poor weather.

But conservationists have long fought the road. They say that the road would not be restricted to medical emergency use and would be destructive to the refuge.

Timothy Cama has the story here.

 

Tech: The massive firestorms that swept through California wine country last October have state legislators and disaster preparedness officials considering a major overhaul to emergency alert measures that could deliver more timely warnings to residents in harm's way.

The fires, which claimed 44 lives and destroyed thousands of structures in four Northern California counties, laid bare the new reality of emergency preparedness in the digital age: Alert systems built during the 20th century have not kept up with 21st century technology.

"The disparity in alert and warning over the years has become really fractured. In the old days, you could use radio and television and you could get most of the people," said Kelly Huston, the deputy director of California's Office of Emergency Services. "Alert and warnings have become a lot more complex."

Read more from Reid Wilson here.

 

Finance: The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Monday charged six accountants who allegedly shared and misused confidential information about planned audits of KPMG.

The SEC alleges that three former employees of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB), which audits accounting companies, tipped off KPMG on upcoming inspections between 2015 and February 2017.

Two of the three former PCAOB employees allegedly gave KPMG confidential information about planned audits as they sought employment at the major accounting firm. The third PCAOB official fed information to his former colleagues after they had joined KPMG, according to the commission.

Sylvan Lane has the details.

 

Environment: The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear a challenge to whether the government can designate private land used for timber operations in Louisiana as critical habitat for the endangered dusky gopher frog found in Mississippi.

The case stems from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) decision to designate 1,544 acres in Louisiana as a critical habitat for the frog that lives underground in open-canopied pine forests.

Though the dusky gopher frog hasn't occupied the land in decades, the government said it's considered a historic breeding site.

Weyerhaeuser Company, which planned to use the land for residential and commercial development, as well as timber operations, challenged the designation.

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals sided with FWS in upholding the classification despite the landowners' argument that it will prohibit them from future development and result in lost property value.

Lydia Wheeler has the story.

 

IN OTHER NEWS

Ex-EPA chief: Agency will need '20 to 30' years to recover from Pruitt (The Hill)

Judge dismisses case against alleged ETF theft (The Wall Street Journal)

Reports on South Korea's cryptocurrency plans keep rolling out, but many remain upbeat (CNBC)