Overnight Regulation: Trump to take steps to ban bump stocks | Trump eases rules on insurance sold outside of ObamaCare | FCC to officially rescind net neutrality Thursday | Obama EPA chief: Reg rollback won't stand

Overnight Regulation: Trump to take steps to ban bump stocks | Trump eases rules on insurance sold outside of ObamaCare | FCC to officially rescind net neutrality Thursday | Obama EPA chief: Reg rollback won't stand
© Getty Images

Welcome to Overnight Regulation, your daily rundown of news from the federal agencies, Capitol Hill, the courts and beyond. It's Tuesday night in Washington, and while Congress is on recess, the administration made some big regulatory news.

 

THE BIG STORY

President TrumpDonald John TrumpGrassley: Dems 'withheld information' on new Kavanaugh allegation Health advocates decry funding transfer over migrant children Groups plan mass walkout in support of Kavanaugh accuser MORE said Tuesday he has directed the Department of Justice to propose regulations that would ban bump stocks, devices that allow semiautomatics to be modified to shoot hundreds of rounds per minute.

"We can do more to protect our children. We must do more to protect our children," Trump said during an announcement at the White House.

ADVERTISEMENT

Bump stocks came to the forefront of the gun control debate after the deadly mass shooting at a Las Vegas music festival in October that left nearly 60 dead and more than 500 injured. The gunman in that incident allegedly used a bump stock device, but there has not been mention of one used in the most recent mass shooting in a Florida high school.

After the deadly Las Vegas shooting, Trump said he directed Attorney General Jeff Sessions to clarify whether certain bump stock devices like the once used in Las Vegas are illegal under current law.

Why now? The announcement from Trump came as a surprise given that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) had yet to decide whether it would create new restrictions for the attachments that enable a semiautomatic rifle to fire at a faster rate.

Does the agency even have the authority to act? While ATF is under the control of the Department of Justice, it's unclear whether the attorney general can order it to issue a rulemaking.

The Department of Justice did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the president supports restrictions on the use of bump stocks and the White House expects further action in the coming days.

Read the rest from Brandon Carter and Lydia Wheeler here.

 

REGULATORY ROUNDUP

Health care: The Trump administration on Tuesday made a controversial move to expand access to health insurance plans that do not meet the requirements under ObamaCare.

The proposed rules would allow people to buy short-term health insurance for up to 12 months, lifting restrictions from the Obama administration that limited the coverage to a maximum of three months.

It's the latest step taken by the Trump administration to open up cheaper, less-comprehensive insurance options as an alternative to people signing up for ObamaCare. Republicans say these options are needed to help people facing high costs under the health law.

The short-term plans differ from ObamaCare plans in a major way: they allow insurers to charge more for people with pre-existing conditions, and don't have to cover certain services like mental health treatment or prescription drugs.

Read more from Peter Sullivan here.

Reaction to short-term plans: Predictably, Democrats did not agree that the administration was looking out for people's best interests. Three high-ranking Democrats blasted the Trump administration's move Tuesday to expand access to plans that don't meet ObamaCare's requirements, calling it the "latest step" in the White House's "effort to sabotage our nation's healthcare system."

Democrats have warned against pushing people toward short-term plans, noting they don't have to cover the array of services that must be covered under ObamaCare.

A joint statement from Education and Workforce ranking member Bobby ScottRobert (Bobby) Cortez ScottHealthy business vs healthy people — how will this administration address the two? Washington turns focus to child nutrition The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by Better Medicare Alliance — McConnell warns of GOP `knife fight’ to keep Senate control MORE (Va.), Energy and Commerce ranking member Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PalloneNew Trump rule would weaken Obama methane pollution standards FCC watchdog clears chairman of 'favoritism' allegations over Sinclair deal GAO report blasts Trump's handling of ObamaCare MORE (N.J.), and Ways and Means ranking member Richard NealRichard Edmund NealHouse GOP bill a mixed bag for retirement savers House panel advances key bill in new round of GOP tax cuts For Capuano in Massachusetts, demography was destiny MORE (Mass.) decried the rule as a measure aimed at unwinding ObamaCare's consumer protections.

Rachel Roubein has more here.

 

Environment: Former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthyRegina (Gina) McCarthyCalifornia commits to 100 percent renewable energy by 2045 Overnight Energy: Watchdog faults EPA over Pruitt security costs | Court walks back order on enforcing chemical plant rule | IG office to probe truck pollution study EPA unveils new Trump plan gutting Obama power plant rules MORE says that the Trump administration's efforts to strike down regulations issued under the Obama administration won't stand in court.

McCarthy, who led the Environmental Protection Agency from 2013 to 2017, said Trump officials were politically targeting regulations at the agency, calling it a "real problem."

"I think the important thing is none of them should be touched unless the administration has a real reason to touch them, other than it was done under the Obama administration, and that is the real problem that we see," McCarthy on Tuesday told BuzzFeed's morning livestream program, "AM to DM."

The former administrator, who has been an outspoken opponent of changes made under current EPA head Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittGovernment watchdog probing EPA’s handling of Hurricane Harvey response Wheeler won’t stop America’s addiction to fossil fuels Overnight Energy: Trump rolls back methane pollution rule | EPA watchdog to step down | China puts tariffs on US gas MORE, specifically mentioned the administration's desire to change the Clean Water Rule, also known as the Waters of the United States rule.

"We see the Clean Water Rule being proposed to be repealed, all that rule really did was do what the Supreme Court and what science told us to do to make sure we are protecting the rivers and streams that are necessary to ensure safe drinking water and fishable and swimmable waters," McCarthy said. "That is being challenged just because the president told them to do that in an executive order. That's legally not going to hold up."

Miranda Green has the rest of the story here.

 

Technology: The Federal Communications Commission is slated to publish on Thursday its order scrapping net neutrality rules, a source with knowledge of the matter told The Hill on Tuesday.

The official publication of the measure, which was first reported by Reuters, in the Federal Register will start the clock on the 60-day window that Congress has to pass a resolution reversing the FCC's order to get rid of net neutrality rules.

Between Democrats, Independents and Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsKavanaugh accuser set to testify Thursday McConnell told Trump criticism of Kavanaugh accuser isn't helpful: report Dems see Kavanaugh saga as playing to their advantage MORE (R-Maine.), 50 senators have backed a Congressional Review Act resolution to preserve the rules -- one vote shy of the 51 votes that measure needs to pass the Senate.

If Democrats can get the support of one more Republican, the resolution could be sent to the House, where it is unlikely to advance.

Ali Breland has more here.

 

Technology: A federal judge overseeing the Justice Department's lawsuit against the AT&T–Time Warner merger rejected AT&T's request for records of communications between the agency and the White House.

AT&T had been preparing to argue in the upcoming trial that President Trump's animus toward CNN, a Time Warner subsidiary, had influenced prosecutors' decision to bring a case against the $85 billion deal.

"We respect the judge's decision and look forward to the upcoming trial," Daniel Petrocelli, the attorney for AT&T and Time Warner, said in a statement.

The order is a major win for the Justice Department, which had called the argument a "sideshow," and a setback for AT&T, which had attempted to use Trump's attacks on CNN to its advantage.

Harper Neidig has more here.

 

Housing: The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has agreed to allow a rule that helps low-income families find housing go into effect after initially attempting to delay the new regulation.

HUD officials had tried to delay the rule for two years, but agreed to implement it after a judge ruled in favor of civil rights groups challenging the delay, according to a press release.

The Small Area Fair Market Rent rule will require public housing officials to determine subsidies for rent based on formulas for zip codes, instead of ones for entire metropolitan areas.

Read Jacqueline Thomsen's story for more information.

 

Technology: Two top U.S. and British trading watchdogs have agreed to join forces on efforts to help financial technology companies navigate regulations.

The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and the United Kingdom's Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) on Monday released a cooperation agreement outlining how officials will share information, help businesses in one country operate in the other, and trade notes on best practices and changes in strategy.

Both agencies already run programs focused on new regulatory challenges posed by emerging financial technology: LabCFTC in the U.S. and FCA Innovate in the U.K.

Sylvan Lane has more here.

 

Environment: Two key House Republicans contended in a Tuesday report that the Obama administration used a rushed, "disorderly" process to ban lead ammunition from hunting on federal land in the final weeks of former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaNational security leaders: Trump's Iran strategy could spark war The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump questions Kavanaugh accuser's account | Accuser may testify Thursday | Midterm blame game begins Dems look to Gillum, Abrams for pathway to victory in tough states MORE's tenure.

At issue is a director's order from Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Director Dan Ashe published on Jan. 19, 2017, the last full day of the Obama administration, banning lead ammunition and tackle from federal wildlife refuges and other areas where hunting is allowed.

House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyRosenstein report gives GOP new ammo against DOJ Gowdy: Declassified documents unlikely to change anyone's mind on Russia investigation Sunday shows preview: Trump sells U.N. reorganizing and Kavanaugh allegations dominate MORE (R-S.C.) and Rep. Blake FarentholdRandolph (Blake) Blake FarentholdFormer aides alleging sexual harassment on Capitol Hill urge congressional action AP Analysis: 25 state lawmakers running in 2018 have been accused of sexual misconduct Ex-lawmakers see tough job market with trade groups MORE (R-Texas) say that their investigation showed that Ashe and his staff skipped many of the usual steps in writing the policy, a process that started less than a month before it was released.

In their Tuesday memo, Gowdy and Farenthold said the lead ban is an example of why the Congressional Review Act needs to be changed to allow Congress to overturn regulations more easily.

Timothy Cama has the story on the report here.

 

Health care: Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) is countersuing to stop a lawsuit filed by critics of the state's plan to institute Medicaid work requirements.

The administration filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Kentucky on Monday seeking a ruling that the state's Medicaid waiver fully complies with federal law.

The Bevin administration's lawsuit was filed in response to a lawsuit by a group of activists in Kentucky who were seeking to block the work requirements from being implemented. However, the Kentuckians sued the federal government, not the state, so the lawsuit was filed in D.C. The Bevin administration is pushing to shift the decision to a federal court in Kentucky.

Read more from Nathaniel Weixel here.

 

Environment: The White House has been considering a plan to rejoin the Paris climate agreement by 2020, a former top White House adviser on international energy and environment issues told E&E news Tuesday.

George David BanksGeorge (David) David BanksWhite House nominating new science adviser with extreme-weather background Proxy advisors do need to be regulated GOP senators push Trump to submit pollution treaty amendment for Senate approval MORE, who left the White House last week after reportedly learning that he would not be granted a permanent security clearance because of past marijuana use, said that while working with the administration, he had a plan in place for the U.S. to ultimately re-enter the international accord.

"There's nothing in it for the president this year. There's nothing in it for the president next year," Banks said. But in 2020, "he's going to want victories."

Miranda Green has the story here

 

Technology: Top technology trade associations are pushing the Trump administration to fight back against an expected European Union tax proposal.

Lobbying groups for major firms like Google, Amazon and Apple say the firms are worried by the expected release in the next two months of European Commission recommendations calling for taxes on unsold goods or digital advertising revenue.

"It is imperative the United States express its concern with the direction of the work and its possible impact on the global business climate in general and digital commerce in particular and forcefully engage in any multilateral discussions," the tech groups wrote in a letter to Department of Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner Mnuchin5 things to know about Trump's escalating trade war with China On The Money: Trump signs first 2019 'minibus' spending package | Mueller probing transactions by Russian organizers of Trump Tower meeting | Stocks brush off trade fears On The Money: Cohen reportedly questioned over Trump dealings with Russia | Trump hails economy | Tells workers to 'start looking' if they want a better job | Internal poll shows tax law backfiring on GOP MORE.

Those signing the letter include the Information Technology Industry Council, CompTia and the Internet Association.

Read Ali Breland's story here.

 

Courts: The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to hear a challenge to a California law that requires there be a 10-day waiting period after all gun sales, even if the person is already a registered gun owner.

California's "cooling off period" is the second longest in the country, according to court documents, and was enacted to give state authorities time to run a background check and give individuals who might want a firearm to harm themselves or others an opportunity to calm down.

Only eight other states and the District of Columbia have any kind of waiting period.

Two California residents, Jeff Silvester and Brandon Combs, who already own guns legally, challenged the application of law along with two nonprofits: The Calguns Foundation Inc. and The Second Amendment Foundation Inc.

Lydia Wheeler has the full story here.

 

Health care: A group of Democratic senators want the Trump administration to reverse its rollback of regulations on nursing homes.

In a letter sent to Alex Azar, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, as well as Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the Democrats allege that the regulatory rollback "will inevitably weaken the safety of our nation's nursing homes and put patients, many of whom are elderly and wholly reliant on this care, at greater risk."

The letter, led by Sens. Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) and Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharSenate Democrats increase pressure for FBI investigation of Kavanaugh Election Countdown: Trump confident about midterms in Hill.TV interview | Kavanaugh controversy tests candidates | Sanders, Warren ponder if both can run | Super PACs spending big | Two states open general election voting Friday | Latest Senate polls GOP in striking distance to retake Franken seat MORE (Minn.), says that a series of CMS memos released in the last year makes it more difficult for federal regulators to fine or deny federal payments to nursing homes that don't meet certain quality and safety standards.

Nathaniel Weixel has the rest here.

 

ELSEWHERE IN THE NEWS

Tax regulations at center of GOP dispute -- The Wall Street Journal

South Korean cryptocurrency regulator found dead at home -- The Wall Street Journal

UK promises not to torch EU regulation post-Brexit -- Bloomberg

How banks could control gun sales if Washington won't -- The New York Times

Small banks near big win on Dodd-Frank rollback -- CNN