Senators Portman and Heitkamp introduce the Regulatory Accountability Act, FCC announces plan to roll back net neutrality, and more…
IN THE NEWS
- Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) introduced the Regulatory Accountability Act, which they hope will “make federal regulations smarter and more effective” by “modernizing the federal regulatory process that hasn’t been significantly reformed in 70 years.” Among other changes, the bill would require agencies to analyze the costs and benefits of new regulations, adopt the most cost-effective means to achieve their goals, and review their most significant rules at least once every ten years. Senator Heitkamp noted that the bill differs from a bill of the same name that was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.
- Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chair Ajit Pai announced a plan to curtail federal regulation of internet providers—collectively referred to as net-neutrality—that was implemented during the Obama Administration. Pai stated that “we need rules that focus on growth and infrastructure investment, rules that expand high-speed Internet access everywhere and give Americans more online choice, faster speeds, and more innovation.” He argued that the plan—which includes the re-classification of broadband as an information service rather than a telecommunications service—entails a return to the “light-touch regulatory framework that served our nation so well during” previous presidential administrations.
- President Trump unveiled his tax reform proposal, which includes significant rate reductions for businesses and individuals. The plan would replace existing tax brackets with three new brackets of 10%, 25%, and 35%, and would also nearly double the standard tax deduction. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin argued that the plan would increase economic growth, but Senate Minority Leader Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) reportedly criticized the proposal as a “giveaway to the very, very wealthy that will explode the deficit.”
- President Trump signed an executive order directing the Secretary of the Interior to review designations of national monuments made by presidents since January 1996 under the authority of the Antiquities Act, including President Obama’s December 2016 designation of the Bears Ears national monument in Utah. In his order, President Trump declared that although monument “designations are a means of stewarding America’s natural resources, protecting America’s natural beauty, and preserving America’s historic places,” when the designation process includes a “lack of public outreach and proper coordination with State, tribal, and local officials” it can undermine other policy goals like energy independence and economic growth.
- The U.S. Senate voted 87-11 to confirm Sonny Perdue as the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Perdue, a veterinarian and former governor of Georgia, reportedly received praise from both sides of the aisle, though Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) reportedly said he would “challenge Gov. Perdue to push back against some of [President Trump’s] biggest proposed budget cuts to vital federal programs that support Delaware agriculture.”
- Citing a need to facilitate compliance, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau delayed the implementation of a rule for prepaid spending cards. The rule, which was issued by the Obama Administration in November 2016, would give greater protection to consumers, including by requiring prepaid card companies to disclose information about late fees in an easy-to-read format. Because of the delay, the rule will go into effect on April 1, 2018 instead of October 1, 2017.
WHAT WE’RE READING THIS WEEK
- Writing for Bloomberg, Elizabeth Dexheimer argues that the introduction of the Financial CHOICE Act—a bill that would repeal significant parts of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act—presents Democrats with an opportunity to advance their own agenda. Dexheimer argues that Democrats could attach a replacement for the Glass-Steagall Act—which separated investment banking and consumer lending—that would allow them to at least get their Republican colleagues’ opinions on Glass-Steagall on the record.
- In a recent op-ed in The Washington Post, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) criticized President Obama’s December 2016 designation of Bears Ears—a large swath of land in southeastern Utah—as a national monument. Due to the area’s significance to Native Americans and the presence of valuable archaeological sites, Sen. Hatch argued that although the area should clearly be protected, “how [it] should be protected is a matter of significant disagreement.” Sen. Hatch stated that President Obama’s “top-down monument designation” “ignored the years of work that Utah’s congressional delegation spent fighting to pass legislation to protect the region through a fair and open process.”