Overnight Regulation: White House says Trump still opposes elephant trophies despite new policy | SEC wants crypto exchanges to register | GOP senator offers net neutrality bill | Biofuel pushes Trump to preserve ethanol mandate

Overnight Regulation: White House says Trump still opposes elephant trophies despite new policy | SEC wants crypto exchanges to register | GOP senator offers net neutrality bill | Biofuel pushes Trump to preserve ethanol mandate

Welcome to Overnight Regulation, your daily rundown of news from the federal agencies, Capitol Hill, the courts and beyond. It's Wednesday evening, and on Pennsylvania Avenue, the White House said it may exempt Mexico, Canada and other allies from Trump's steel and aluminum tariffs.

 

THE BIG STORY

President TrumpDonald John TrumpRussia's election interference is a problem for the GOP Pence to pitch trade deal during trip to Michigan: report Iran oil minister: US made 'bad mistake' in ending sanctions waivers MORE remains opposed to elephant trophy hunting despite his administration's decision to allow some trophy imports on a "case-by-case basis," the White House said on Wednesday.

"President Trump's position on trophy hunting remains the same," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.

In an interview with Piers Morgan on ITV that aired in January, Trump said his administration's decision to overturn former President Obama's ban on importing elephant parts from two African nations "terrible."

He tweeted in November that elephant trophy hunting is a "horror show," and said he doubted the Fish and Wildlife Service's (FWS) determination that trophy hunting helps conserve healthy elephant populations.

But last week the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service quietly announced it would weigh big-game trophy permits on a "case-by-case basis," and repeal all previous species- or country-wide policies.

Sanders said the FWS policy was "a response to a court decision impacting how trophy import applications are reviewed." That decision, in December, said previous trophy policies did not follow the proper process, which should have included public notice and comment.

Read more from Jordan Fabian and Timothy Cama here.

 

ON TAP FOR THURSDAY

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will hold an executive session on several nominations, including for John Ring to be a member of the National Labor Relations Board.

 

REG ROUNDUP

Tech: The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Wednesday announced that all platforms used for exchanging cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin and ethereum, must register with the agency.

"If a platform offers trading of digital assets that are securities and operates as an 'exchange,' as defined by the federal securities laws, then the platform must register with the SEC as a national securities exchange or be exempt from registration," the SEC said in a statement.  

The SEC also warned investors that many places where crypto-currencies are currently being exchanged aren't SEC-registered despite their appearances and are actually "potentially unlawful."

Read Ali Breland's piece here.

 

Immigration: Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTrump poised to roll back transgender health protections Trump claims Mueller didn't speak to those 'closest' to him And the winner of the Robert Mueller Sweepstakes is — Vladimir Putin MORE issued a warning to California the same day he announced a lawsuit filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) over the state's immigration policies.

"I understand that we have a wide variety of political opinions out there on immigration. But the law is in the books and its purposes are clear and just," Sessions said during a speech to the California Peace Officers' Association in Sacramento on Wednesday.

"There is no nullification. There is no secession. Federal law is the supreme law of the land. I would invite any doubters to go to Gettysburg, to the tombstones of John C. Calhoun and Abraham Lincoln. This matter has been settled," he continued.

DOJ's lawsuit against California aims to block three so-called sanctuary laws the state's legislature passed last year.

Max Greenwood reports.

 

Energy: The leaders of 150 American biofuel companies sent a letter to President Trump on Wednesday urging him to support the current Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and the supplemental use of ethanol credits.

The letter from the groups warns Trump that changes to the RFS and the Renewable Identification Number (RIN) system would negatively impact ethanol and biofuel producers.

"Like hundreds of thousands of others across the country, our jobs and those of our coworkers depend on the RFS, which ensures that American-made biofuels cannot be locked out of the marketplace by monopolies at the fuel pump," the letter read.

The letter comes amid a fierce debate over possible changes to the ethanol mandate.

Miranda Green has the story.

 

Tech: A Republican senator being courted by Democrats as a possible tie-breaking vote for a bill that would overturn the FCC's net neutrality repeal has offered his own legislation to replace the Obama-era rules on internet service providers.

Sen. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.) introduced a bill on Wednesday that would prohibit companies like Comcast and Verizon from blocking or throttling web content.

But it's unlikely to satisfy Democrats and net neutrality activists who also want the government to ban providers from creating internet fast lanes, which they say would upend the internet's level playing field.

"Does this bill resolve every issue in the net neutrality debate?" Kennedy said in a statement. "No, it doesn't. It's not a silver bullet. But it's a good start."

Kennedy called on Democrats to come to the table with him and Rep. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnConservative groups defend tech from GOP crackdown Lawmakers weigh challenges in fighting robocalls Senators show deep skepticism on Space Force proposal MORE (R-Tenn.), who introduced companion legislation in the House, to work out a compromise.

Harper has the story here.

 

Tech: Broadcom, the Singapore-based tech firm that has been aggressively trying to take over Qualcomm, is promising to start a new $1.5 billion U.S. innovation fund amid a federal investigation into the national security implications of its bid for the U.S. chip manufacturer.

The announcement comes a day after the U.S. put the hostile takeover on hold, saying that Broadcom could jeopardize national security by threatening Qualcomm's technological leadership.

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS) said in a letter to Qualcomm's attorneys on Monday that it was worried Broadcom would cut back on Qualcomm's investment in emerging technologies like 5G components in favor of short-term projects, thus opening the door for foreign firms to take the lead.

More from Harper Neidig here.

 

Finance: Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenJulián Castro: Trump should be impeached for trying to obstruct justice 'in very concrete ways' Poll: Biden tops Sanders nationally Pete Buttigieg: 'God doesn't have a political party' MORE (D-Mass.) on Tuesday went after Democratic senators who backed a bill that would deregulate many of the country's major banks.

Despite the measure to roll back critical parts of the Dodd-Frank Act being largely backed by Republicans, a number of Democrats have said they would support the bill. Seventeen Democrats voted on Tuesday to advance the bill.

Warren said these votes make it likely the bill will pass.

"Senate Republicans voted unanimously for the #BankLobbyistAct. But this bill wouldn't be on the path to becoming law without the support of these Democrats," Warren tweeted on Tuesday afternoon. "The Senate just voted to increase the chances your money will be used to bail out big banks again."

The proposed bill would decrease the number of banks that are subject to higher oversight from the government to ensure they can weather a financial shock.

Luis Sanchez reports.

 

Environment: The Trump administration is proposing a strategy to reduce and eventually eliminate certain animal testing in evaluating chemicals.

In a draft document released Wednesday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) laid out a multiyear process to identify alternative testing methods, push those methods in the chemical industry and start to use them in regulatory decision-making.

Congress told the EPA to develop the strategy in the 2016 Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, an update to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

Eventually, the EPA hopes to completely eliminate chemical testing on vertebrate animal species, a group that includes mammals, fish, birds, amphibians and reptiles, it said in the 40-page draft strategy.

Timothy Cama has more on the draft document here.

 

Labor: House Democrats are pushing legislation to stop employers from being able to pocket a portion of workers' tips.

Democratic Reps. Katherine ClarkKatherine Marlea ClarkThe Special Olympics are safe, but what about other programs DeVos would cut? Congress might finally fix the holes in workplace sexual harassment law Candace Owens clip becomes most watched C-SPAN Twitter video from a House hearing MORE (Mass.) and Rosa DeLauroRosa Luisa DeLauroDemocratic proposals to overhaul health care: A 2020 primer Progressives threaten to derail major Dem spending proposal GOP on defensive over Dem votes on policies geared toward women MORE (Conn.) introduced the Tip Income Protection Act on Wednesday in response to a proposed rule from the Department of Labor (DOL) that will allow employers to pool the gratuities earned by employees who make the full minimum wage and split them with nontipped workers.

Opponents have argued there's nothing in the regulation to stop employers from stealing tips for themselves.

Clark and DeLauro's bill, however, would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act to make all tips, even those that are pooled, the property of the employee not the employer.

Lydia Wheeler reports.

 

Health care: Scott Gottlieb, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), on Wednesday criticized what he called a "rigged" system that keeps some generic drugs off the market and leaves patients paying high costs.

Complex and secret deals between drug distributors, pharmacies, insurers and other key players have kept less expensive drugs off the market, he argued during a speech at a conference Wednesday for major health insurance companies.

"The rigged payment scheme might quite literally scare competition out of the market altogether," Gottlieb said.

"I fear that's already happening."

Gottlieb said the existing system makes it harder for biosimilars -- cheaper versions of complex drugs -- to enter the market because older, more expensive drugs are favored.

Jessie Hellmann has the rundown of the remarks.

 

Environment: A federal appeals court Wednesday rejected the Trump administration's attempt to dismiss a lawsuit filed by a group of kids who want to force the government to do more to fight climate change.

The San Francisco-based Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled that it would be premature to dismiss the case based on how burdensome the Trump administration believes the process of searching for documents and questioning people, known as discovery, will be.

"The defendants' argument fails because the district court has not issued a single discovery order, nor have the plaintiffs filed a single motion seeking to compel discovery. Rather, the parties have employed the usual meet-and-confer process of resolving discovery disputes," the three-judge panel wrote in their Wednesday decision.

Background: Filed in 2015 in Oregon federal court by 21 youths and two environmental groups against numerous federal agencies, the lawsuit argues that since the federal government knows reasonably well about the consequences of climate change, it has a constitutional duty to take stronger actions to protect the children's futures.

More from Timothy.

 

Courts: The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday once again held that workplace anti-discrimination laws extend to protections for transgender workers.

A three-judge panel on the court found that R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes Inc. in Detroit violated Title VII anti-discrimination laws when it fired its funeral director after she told its owner Thomas Rost that she planned to transition from male to female and would be representing herself as a woman while at work.

The court rejected Rost's claim that being required to employ Aimee Stephens, formerly known as Anthony, while she dresses as a woman would constitute an unjustified substantial burden on his sincerely held religious beliefs in violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Attorneys urged the court to rule that the funeral home qualifies for the "ministerial exception" to Title VII, but it said Stephens was not a ministerial employee and the funeral home is not a religious institution.

Lydia Wheeler has the story.

 

Energy and environment: A bipartisan group of lawmakers unveiled a bill Wednesday to increase funding for national park infrastructure, using money from energy produced both offshore and on federal land.

The bill, backed by Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeOvernight Energy: Trump moves to crack down on Iranian oil exports | Florida lawmakers offer bill to ban drilling off state's coast | Bloomberg donates .5M to Paris deal Florida lawmakers offer bill to ban drilling off state's coast Overnight Energy: Gillibrand offers bill to ban pesticide from school lunches | Interior secretary met tribal lawyer tied to Zinke casino dispute | Critics say EPA rule could reintroduce asbestos use MORE, is meant in part to implement the Trump administration's proposal last month for a new National Park Service (NPS) infrastructure fund paid for with money from oil drilling, wind, solar and other federal energy sources.

Dubbed the National Park Restoration Act, the bill would take half of the money that the federal government gets from energy production that is above 2018 forecasts and not dedicated for another use.

Timothy with the story again.

 

IN THE NEWS

Big banks get a big win in Senate rollback bill -- The Wall Street Journal

The fine print: What's in the Senate financial-regulation bill -- The Wall Street Journal

NYSE fined by SEC over outages, repeat violations -- Marketwatch

Wyoming works to make some crypto tokens exempt from regulation -- TechCrunch

Senators call new hearing on Takata air bag inflators -- Reuters