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Republicans take next step in US deregulation with Senate bill

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Republican lawmakers launched the next round in their fight against federal regulation on Wednesday, helped by at least one Democrat, as the U.S. Senate began work on legislation to change nearly every step agencies take in creating and applying new rules.

Republicans have said they deem lightening federal regulation, which they consider costly and burdensome, as much a priority as overhauling healthcare and rewriting the tax code.

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For most of President Donald Trump’s first 100 days, the Republican-led Congress attacked regulation by passing resolutions to wipe some of former Democratic President Barack Obama’s rules off the books under the Congressional Review Act. Trump also ordered agencies to scrap two existing rules every time they enact a new one.

Just before Trump’s January inauguration, the House of Representatives passed the “Regulatory Accountability Act,” combining a half dozen bills to radically change government regulation.

On Wednesday, Senator Rob Portman, a Ohio Republican, and Senator Heidi Heitkamp, a North Dakota Democrat, introduced a version of the act for that chamber. If it passes, the bill will be combined with the House version for Trump to sign into law.

The bill would bring “our outdated federal regulatory process into the 21st Century by requiring agencies to use the best scientific and economic data available, strengthening checks and balances, and giving the public a voice in the process,” Portman said in a statement.

It requires stricter cost-benefit analysis, use of the “best available science” to craft rules, and reviews of regulations, according to a summary.

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The bill diverges from the House version on what is known as the “Chevron Deference,” based on a Supreme Court ruling that courts should defer to agencies’ interpretations of statutes governing their rulemaking.

The House legislation eliminates the Chevron Deference, while the Senate one creates a judicial review process where courts can decide if agencies comply with the law and then remand non-compliant rules to agencies. Courts would also review factual determinations used in drafting rules costing more than $1 billion annually.

Environmental and labor groups said the Senate bill could block needed new regulations and weaken existing ones.

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“This bill would tilt the scales in favor of polluters at the public’s expense,” said Scott Slesinger, legislative director of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “It would make it virtually impossible to safeguard the public from dirty air, unsafe drinking water and other health threats.”

(Reporting by Lisa Lambert; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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Chief Justice John Roberts is far from the impartial savior Democrats are hoping he’ll be: PBS host

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During an MSNBC panel discussion Sunday evening, Alexander Heffner, PBS host of "The Open Mind," cautioned against putting faith in Chief Justice John Roberts.

In an interview with Rev. Al Sharpton, Heffner outlined why Roberts' impartiality isn't exactly what Democrats think it is.

"But I'm tired of hearing about Chief Justice Roberts impartiality, this idea that he's some kind of paragon of constitutional order," Heffner said. "The proof is in the pudding. The reality is this Supreme Court had an opportunity to review the cases about whether the public should have access to Trump's business and personal tax returns, whether the public should have the testimony of [John] Bolton and company."

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Ken Starr is an awful choice for Trump’s legal team because he’ll look like a hypocrite: Former federal prosecutor

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President Donald Trump has a severe hypocrisy problem, and it has extended to his legal team. In a CNN explainer answering legal questions from viewers, former state and federal prosecutor Eli Honig explained that the choice of Ken Starr for Trump's legal team was a terrible idea.

Trump has chosen lawyers that are like a Fox News legal discussion panel. Pat Cipollone, Alan Dershowitz, Robert Wray, Pam Bondi and Jay Sekulow are all key people Trump has called on to defend him. But one person stands out, Honig explained. Ken Starr.

"He may emerge as a symbol of hypocrisy," Honig said. "He was the independent counsel who pursued Bill Clinton in the 1990s. Ken Starr turned over Heaven and Earth in his investigation of Bill Clinton. He talked to everyone who ever had known Monica Lewinsky, ex-boyfriends, teachers, window washers. And here he's going to say you shouldn't be hearing from primary witnesses?"

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‘Comparing yourself to terrorists?’ Internet cracks up at Trump saying dead 9-11 hijackers got more justice than him

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President Donald Trump quoted Fox News host Mark Levin that left many scratching their heads. Levin, who has a show on Sunday evenings, claimed that the terrorists from Sept. 11 got more due process than the president.

The claim was a curious one because, as many on Twitter noted, it's not often that the president of the United States compares himself to a terrorist. Secondly, the 9-11 hijackers all died in the attack, as they were on the planes that crashed into the buildings and into a Pennsylvania field.

Trump is known to quote Levin frequently, though the citations often make the president look worse.

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