By Bernie Becker, Erik Wasson, Peter Schroeder and Vicki Needham - 02/18/11 12:15 AM EST
The bill, whenever it winds its way through the House, is expected to drop with a thud in the Senate, where appropriators have said that they cannot handle the measure in the one week the chamber will be in session between now and March 4.
And to further drive that point home, Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the majority leader, has made it clear that the Senate Democrats’ opening position in the upcoming talks is no decrease in spending, while Speaker John Boenher (R-Ohio) said he will not accept a bill that does not make at least some cuts.
What Else to Watch For:
Trade Market: Several important developments, in fact, bubbled up on the trade front Thursday.
For one, Jim Hoffa, the Teamsters president, came out strongly against the free trade agreement with South Korea in a statement that could complicate deal’s chances in Congress. The White House wants the deal – which is supported by the United Auto Workers, but not the larger AFL-CIO -- approved by the middle of this year, when a rival E.U.-South Korea deal is due to come into effect.
Hoffa’s statement, the first from the Teamsters opposing the agreement, singled out the deal’s rule-of-origin provision for cars, saying it would allow vehicles with too many parts made elsewhere to come into the U.S. as “Korean” and thus benefit from lower tariffs.
Elsewhere…: In another development, the top Democrats and Republicans on the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees wrote to the president of Taiwan on Thursday to blast the country for blocking U.S. beef exports.
Beef is a sensitive issue for Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont), the Finance chairman, who has said he is opposed to the Korean free trade agreement over its weak beef provisions. And banding together to fight for U.S. beef into Taiwan could be a way to win Baucus over to the cause of passing the Korea FTA.
“Last month, Taiwan began rejecting U.S. beef shipments that contained trace amounts of ractopamine, a widely used feed ingredient that helps produce lean meat,” the members wrote. “As a result of these actions, U.S. beef exports to Taiwan have ground to a halt – retailers are pulling products off their shelves, importers are cancelling orders, and exporters are redirecting shipments to other markets.”
More Budget! More Budget!: NDN and the New Policy Institute, a pair of Washington think tanks, will hold a budget discussion with, among others, William Gale of the Brookings Institution and Kevin Hassett of the American Enterprise Institute.
-- The American Petroleum Institute is scheduled to release January figures on demand for oil and gas.
Senate Finishes Up: As the House readied for a long night, the Senate easily passed a Federal Aviation Administration measure, following some holdups involving Reagan National Airport outside Washington. The House Transportation panel passed its own FAA reauthorization on Thursday, meaning there's still some hurdles before the first permanent measure in several years could become law. Stay tuned to On the Money for a more thorough recap.
Durbin v. Bernanke: On Capitol Hill on Thursday, Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, was among the officials who worried that new limits on debit-card fees could injure small banks. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the driving force behind that provision in the Dodd-Frank legislation, responded that Bernanke had bought the financial industry’s talking points hook, line and sinker. Our Peter Schroeder has the details.
Hitting ‘Em Where It Hurts: Online retail sales are continuing their rise, totaling $44 billion during 2010’s 4th quarter, according to Commerce Department data released Thursday. And as The Wall Street Journal reports, the convenience for stay-at-home shoppers is also hurting many revenue-strapped state and local governments in the pocketbook.
Talking Tax Reform: Michael Mundaca, the assistant Treasury secretary for tax policy, signaled Thursday that any changes to how the U.S. taxes overseas profits would be done within the context of corporate tax reform, Reuters reports. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner made similar statements during his string of appearances on Capitol Hill this week.
What You Might Have Missed:
On the Money’s Thursday:
-- The stimulus at 2 years old: Biden passes the reins, Republicans criticize.
-- Barbara Boxer and Bob Casey want to stop lawmakers’ cash flow in case of a shutdown.
-- Meanwhile, Jack Lew pooh-poohs that shutdown talk.
-- Grover Norquist is no fan of the Senate deficit reduction talks.
-- Trade Adjustment Assistance gets caught in a Senate snag.
-- Foreclosures high; home-loan delinquencies low.
-- Initial jobless claims spike.
-- Senate Finance will talk trade agreements on March 9.
-- And Claire McCaskill and Darrell Issa make a coffee date.