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The Regulatory Week in Review: March 3, 2017

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IN THE NEWS

  • President Trump reportedly announced his intent to propose a budget to Congress which would increase military spending by $54 billion, and offset that increase with cuts to domestic programs—including a reported 24 percent cut to the budget of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency—and foreign aid, but which is expected to leave Social Security and Medicare funded at steady levels.
  • In a major speech before both houses of Congress, President Trump touted his Administration’s “historic effort to massively reduce job-crushing regulations” and its institution of “a deregulation task force inside of every government agency.” President Trump repeated his support for his so-called two-for-one deregulation plan—which entails the elimination of two existing regulations for each new one—and specifically targeted coal industry regulations.
  • In a shift in policy from the Obama Administration, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), which is currently involved in litigation with Texas over that state’s voter identification law, made a motion to drop the argument that Texas enacted the law with discriminatory intent—something that it is necessary for opponents of the law to prove if they wish to see a judge place Texas back under “preclearance” under the Voting Rights Act, and require the state to have any changes it made to its voting laws be approved by the DOJ before going into effect.
  • U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions—in his first speech since his confirmation—reportedly signaled that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) will be less active in monitoring civil rights issues at local police agencies than it was under the Obama Administration. Attorney General Sessions reportedly expressed concern that federal oversight has harmed police departments’ “effectiveness,” but also denied that the change in policy is “mean or insensitive to civil rights or human rights.”
  • The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration issued a final rule adding ten substances to Schedule I—substances “defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse”—of the Controlled Substances Act. The ten substances are all types of “synthetic cathinones”—colloquially known as “bath salts.” The rule follows a long campaign by government agencies to crack down on the popular substances since President Obama signed a ban on the drugs in July 2012.

WHAT WE’RE READING THIS WEEK

  • According to a recent report from The Hill, a large number of companies—more than 220, including well-known firms like Caddell and Raytheon—have reportedly expressed interest in building a border wall with Mexico that has been a central feature of the Trump Administration’s agenda. Some estimates have reportedly suggested that the wall could ultimately cost as much as $21.6 billion. The Hill reports that further documentation will be required from companies interested in bidding on the project later this month.
  • Writing for Brookings, University of Pennsylvania Law School Professor David Skeel discusses the implications if Congress were to repeal Dodd-Frank’s resolution rules, which give the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) funding when the FDIC takes over a troubled systematically important financial institution. Skeel argues that, contrary to the views of many opponents of the resolution rules, repealing them could make “true bailouts more likely, rather than less.”


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