- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 15, 2017

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Latest on the efforts of Congress to revoke regulations issued in the final months of the Obama administration (all times local):

5:15 p.m.

The House has voted 236-189 to overturn a Labor Department rule establishing when states could require drug testing for certain laid-off workers seeking unemployment insurance.

Mississippi, Wisconsin and Texas are among the states that have passed laws seeking to expand drug testing in their unemployment insurance programs.

But they needed the Labor Department’s guidance on which applicants, based on their occupation, could be tested. Examples for which testing would be allowed under the regulation include flight crews and jobs requiring a firearm.

But critics seeking the regulation’s repeal said the department crafted it so narrowly that it undermined congressional intent to give states more leeway.

Democratic lawmakers are opposing the GOP-led effort. They say expanding drug testing beyond the categories in the Obama administration’s rule is designed to embarrass laid-off workers and deter them from seeking benefits.


5 p.m.

The GOP-led House has voted to reject two Labor Department rules designed to guide states and large cities and counties as they create retirement savings programs for low-income workers.

With millions having no access to retirement-savings plans at their jobs, some states have been working to fill the void.

The states are requiring employers to automatically enroll workers in individual retirement accounts sponsored by the state and managed by investment professionals. The Obama-era regulation gave states the green light.

Republicans are complaining that the plans would be exempt from federal protections that provide clear rules of the road for employers. They say, for the sake of consumers and taxpayers, the federal rules should apply to all retirement plans.

Democrats say the GOP-led efforts will jeopardize the states’ efforts to help low-income workers.


11:05 a.m.

The Republican-led Senate has voted to block an Obama-era regulation that would prevent an estimated 75,000 people with mental disorders from being able to purchase a firearm.

The 57 to 43 vote to revoke the regulation now sends the measure to President Donald Trump, who is expected to sign it.

The Obama administration rule strengthened the federal background check system by requiring the Social Security Administration to include the names of beneficiaries with mental impairments who also have a third party manage their benefits.

But critics say the rule was too broad and unfairly stigmatized the disabled. With a Republican ally in the White House, the GOP has moved aggressively to rescind several late Obama administration regulations.

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