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Svetoslov Nikolov via Flickr CC

Democrats are launching a new push to revive a stalled effort to force oil, gas, and mining companies to disclose payments to foreign governments for projects in their countries.

Happening today: 12 Senate Democrats led by Ben Cardin will urge the Securities and Exchange Commission in a letter to "promptly" re-issue the disclosure regulation that's required under the 2010 Dodd-Frank law.

They lost the last round big time: In February, Congress and the Trump administration, backed by some major oil companies (like Exxon) and business groups, nullified a 2016 version of the rule with a resolution passed under the Congressional Review Act (CRA).

Why it matters: Cardin joins human rights groups who say the transparency law is a key weapon against the "resource curse" — the corruption, conflict, and poverty that often afflicts energy-producing nations in Africa and elsewhere. Cardin, who co-authored the Dodd-Frank disclosure mandate with then-GOP Sen. Richard Lugar, also says the disclosures will give needed info to investors.

But powerful oil companies and business groups have lobbied hard and spent years battling the efforts in court, arguing that disclosing payments in public SEC filings will put SEC-regulated energy companies at a competitive disadvantage when bidding for contracts abroad.

Regulation status? It's complicated: The CRA, a product of Newt Gingrich's Contract with America that Republicans are giving a heavy workout for the first time, bars regulators from issuing another rule in substantially the same form.

  • That leaves the SEC in wholly uncharted waters. It must craft a regulation that meets the detailed instructions of one law (Dodd-Frank) even though an earlier version of the rule was wiped away by another.
  • The lawmakers' letter says the CRA resolution's passage doesn't change the SEC's obligation to issue a disclosure rule that's "fully compliant" with the Dodd-Frank requirements, and free of loopholes that some major oil companies have sought.

Go deeper

Biden Cabinet confirmation schedule: When to watch hearings

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on Jan. 16 in Wilmington, Delaware. Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

The first hearings for President-elect Joe Biden's Cabinet nominations begin on Tuesday, with testimony from his picks to lead the departments of State, Homeland and Defense.

Why it matters: It's been a slow start for a process that usually takes place days or weeks earlier for incoming presidents. The first slate of nominees will appear on Tuesday before a Republican-controlled Senate, but that will change once the new Democratic senators-elect from Georgia are sworn in.

Kamala Harris resigns from Senate seat ahead of inauguration

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Photo: Mason Trinca/Getty Images

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris submitted her resignation from her seat in the U.S. Senate on Monday, two days before she will be sworn into her new role.

What's next: California Gov. Gavin Newsom has selected California Secretary of State Alex Padilla to serve out the rest of Harris' term, which ends in 2022.

4 hours ago - World

Putin foe Navalny to be detained for 30 days after returning to Moscow

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny. Photo: Oleg Nikishin/Epsilon/Getty Images

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny has been ordered to remain in pre-trial detention for 30 days, following his arrest upon returning to Russia on Sunday for the first time since a failed assassination attempt last year.

Why it matters: The detention of Navalny, an anti-corruption activist and the most prominent domestic critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has already set off a chorus of condemnations from leaders in Europe and the U.S.