Week in Review

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Senate Democrats introduce bill that would ban assault weapons, House passes bill that would get rid of employer liability for subcontractors, and more…

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  • A group of 22 Democrats led by U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) introduced the Assault Weapons Ban of 2017, which would ban the sale, transfer, or production of military-grade assault weapons. Senator Feinstein recognized that “this bill won’t stop every mass shooting,” but noted that “it will begin removing these weapons of war from our streets.”
  • The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Save Local Business Act, which would repeal an Obama-era National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruling that held companies liable for on-the-job wrongs committed by subcontractors. U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.), the bill’s sponsor, claimed that the NLRB’s ruling “created deep uncertainty among job creators.” The Economic Policy Institute, however, said this bill would “rob workers of their rights.”
  • The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York subpoenaed Icahn Enterprises L.P. to learn about the “role” that Carl Icahn, the company’s owner, had when advising President Donald Trump. In particular, the U.S. Attorney’s Office seeks materials on Icahn’s involvement with the Renewable Fuels Standard Program, which aims “to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” Icahn reportedly suggested that the Trump Administration modify the program to decrease costs of compliance for him and an oil company whose board he chairs, CVR Energy, Inc.
  • In a party-line vote of 49-47, the U.S. Senate confirmed William L. Wehrum, current partner at the law firm Hunton & Williams and former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official, to be Assistant Administrator of EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, where he will be overseeing a portfolio including auto regulation, climate change, and air pollution. Sean Alteri, director of Kentucky Division for Air Quality, said Wehrum’s “knowledge and experience will greatly benefit EPA, state, and local air pollution control agencies.” John Coequyt, Global Climate Policy Director at the Sierra Club, vocalized his opposition to the nomination saying Wehrum “has an astounding number of conflicts of interest” and “it’s unlikely that he’s going to put people before polluters.”
  • William C. Dudley, president and chief executive officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (New York Fed), announced his intention to retire from his position in mid-2018, after seven years serving the New York Fed in this capacity. The Federal Reserve System Board Chair Janet L. Yellen said “the American economy is stronger and the financial system safer because of his many thoughtful contributions.”
  • The ridesharing company Uber and the U.S. National Aeronautical and Space Administration reportedly agreed to join forces to create “flying taxis,” testing of which would begin in 2020. Jeff Holden, Chief Product Officer of Uber, noted Uber’s drive to receive support from U.S. and European regulators: “We are very much embracing the regulatory bodies and starting very early in discussions about…ride-sharing in the sky.”
  •  EPA proposed a rule that would rescind part of 2016 regulation sought to lower greenhouse gas emissions by “heavy-duty vehicles” like tractor trailers. The proposed rule would exclude from the 2016 regulation “glider vehicles”—which are made up of “previously owned” engines and transmission but “new body parts,” such as the cab—because EPA suggests that the definition of the vehicles to which the regulations applies does not include glider vehicles.
  • The Federal Aviation Administration announced the establishment of the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program. The program encourages state and local government to work with unmanned aircraft system operators to how to regulate unmanned aircraft systems at the local, state, and federal levels.
  • EPA extended its deadline for public comment on its proposal to repeal the Clean Power Plan, an Obama-era effort to reduce carbon emissions, and announced that a public hearing will be held on the proposal.