OVERNIGHT MONEY: Yellen back on the Hill

THURSDAY'S BIG STORY:

Yellen returns: You can only keep Janet Yellen away from the Capitol for so long.

The new head of the Federal Reserve was supposed to testify before the Senate Banking Committee earlier this month, but the winter weather had other ideas and the hearing was postponed.

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But with clearer skies ahead, Yellen will take a second crack at appearing before the panel on Thursday, her first appearance at Banking since taking over the Fed.

Yellen hit few roadblocks when she appeared before the panel for a confirmation hearing in November. And her initial Hill appearance before the House Financial Services Committee did not yield a lot of fireworks. But Fed watchers can still expect plenty of debate about the central bank's monetary policy, the nation's economy and everything else under Yellen's purview. 

The Fed is in the throes of a slow wind-down of its massive monthly bond-buying stimulus, which has been cut to $65 billion from $85 billion in the past two months despite some shaky economic indicators on jobs. 

 

WHAT ELSE WE'RE WATCHING

IRS regs: A House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee will hold a Thursday hearing about the IRS's proposed rules defining the political activities of tax-exempt groups, a move that the House is trying to delay.

The deadline for comments on the plan is Thursday, too. Needless to say, the proposal has gotten plenty of attention and has garnered more than 60,000 responses, so far. 

The proposed rules changes come amid a congressional investigation into the IRS's targeting of conservative groups.

Under current law, organizations qualify as tax-exempt organizations if they're “operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare.”

The proposed guidance defines the term “candidate-related political activity” and would amend current regulations by indicating that that type of activity doesn't fall under the definition of social welfare.

Activities that would disqualify an organization seeking 501(c)(4) status include “communications that expressly advocate for a clearly identified political candidate or candidates of a political party,”  among others.

The White House's budget office has called the IRS proposal “the first step in a standard rulemaking process intended to clarify the rules and to provide greater certainty for organizations seeking tax-exempt status.”

The Obama administration said Tuesday that President Obama would veto a House Republican bill delaying the rules clarifications. 

Talking trade: Commerce Secretary Penny PritzkerPenny PritzkerOvernight Cybersecurity: FBI probes possible hack of Dems' phones | Trump's '400-pound hacker' | Pressure builds on Yahoo | Poll trolls run wild Overnight Finance: Senate rejects funding bill as shutdown looms | Labor Dept. to probe Wells Fargo | Fed to ease stress test rules for small banks Pacific deal will boost exports for small businesses: report MORE is keeping her promise to ensure trade expansion remains a central policy focus for the Obama administration.

On Thursday, she will make remarks on the trade and commercial relationship between the United States and the Gulf region, at a luncheon co-hosted by three business councils: U.S.-United Arab Emirates, U.S.-Qatar and U.S.-Saudi Arabian groups. 

 

LOOSE CHANGE

Pounding the pavement: In that vein, Pritzker met with the New Democrat Coalition on Wednesday to discuss the Obama administration’s efforts to create jobs and provide more opportunities in the economy.

She reaffirmed the White House's goal of forging new trade agreements, which she argues will lead to shipping out more U.S. exports, better jobs and a more robust economy here in the United States.

The coalition’s members stressed the importance of policies dedicated to supporting the American innovation, including comprehensive immigration reform, broadband deployment, manufacturing innovation and patent reform.

 

ECONOMIC INDICATORS

Initial Claims: The Labor Department will release its weekly claims for first-time jobless benefits.

Durable orders: The Commerce Department releases its January report measuring the volume of orders, shipments and unfilled orders of durable goods, which are goods intended to last three or more years. Orders are considered a leading indicator of manufacturing activity, and the market often moves on this report despite the volatility and large revisions that make it a less than perfect indicator.

 

WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED

— GOP Ways and Means chairman unveils mammoth tax reform bill

— Tax plan sends shockwaves down K Street

— Reform plan targets popular tax breaks

Boehner scoffs at tax reform vote

— Report: Corporations pay fraction of top tax rate

— Dems seek to force vote on minimum wage

— Sen. Manchin calls for bitcoin ban

— Lack of currency provisions threatens future of Obama trade agenda

— IRS facing $14M price tag from Tea Party probe

— CFPB sues for-profit school system for predatory lending

—Lois Lerner's lawyer slams Issa, GOP

— Sales of new homes hit five-year high in January

— Bank blames rogue desk for tax cheats

— Obama's $300B infrastructure plan

— Chamber turns up heat on worker centers

— Treasury pushes back against 'misleading' statements on IRS

 

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