OVERNIGHT MONEY: Congress aims for short-term debt-limit deal

Republicans are hoping the bill gives Congress a few months to find a longer-term debt-ceiling agreement that includes significant spending cuts.

So, guess what? Senate Democrats on Wednesday said they will move a budget resolution through the their panel and eventually to the Senate floor for the first time in four years. We've really missed that vote-a-rama. 

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But Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said the decision had nothing to do with the House’s debt-ceiling bill, though.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), the top Republican on the Budget Committee, commended Democrats for agreeing to do a budget resolution. 

Finally. 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said his chamber plans to get the House-passed bill done as soon as possible, while at the same time trumpeting victory in the long-running battle over the debt ceiling.

Reid deemed the fight over the debt limit settled, and said the GOP can no longer use it as leverage for future spending fights.

We'll see how that all pans out. 

“It will set the precedent for future debt-ceiling extensions that we’ll have to have,” Reid said. “By passing this bill, the Republicans are joining Democrats to say we will not hold the full faith and credit of the United States hostage. We will pay the bills that we have incurred.”

Meanwhile, a group of senators introduced their own bill that, in contrast to that of the House, cancels pay if a budget and 12 individual appropriations bills have not been passed by Oct. 1. No retroactive pay is provided.

Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) is the lead sponsor, and was joined by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). 

Overall, the House bill means an increase to the nation's borrowing limit of about $450 billion and would push the next battle, if needed, to the summer


WHAT ELSE TO WATCH FOR

Convention spending: Sens. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.) are planning to introduce a bill that would prohibit the use of taxpayer money for the Democratic and Republican nominating conventions. 

They introduced similar legislation in the last Congress and it passed 95-4 as an amendment. The House passed a similar measure to end future federal funding of political conventions, but a final bill never materialized.

“Congress has tough decisions on deck that must be made in order to rein in our unsustainable debt and deficit, and this is one bipartisan step forward in the right direction," Coburn said.  

"At a time when we’re working to trim all unnecessary spending, it is a no-brainer for taxpayers to stop footing part of the bill for these large, expensive events," Udall said.

No earmarks, no cry: Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) will reintroduce legislation on Thursday that would permanently ban congressional earmarks. 

Toomey and McCaskill led the charge two years ago for a temporary, two-year moratorium.

With that time period up, they are now looking to permanently ban all earmarks, define earmarks as any congressionally directed spending item, limited tax benefit, or limited tariff benefit and create a point of order against any legislation containing an earmark. The point of order would only apply to the actual earmark, rather than to the entire bill, and require a two-thirds vote to waive the point of order.


CABINET WATCH

Doing the rounds: Treasury Secretary nominee Jack Lew made the rounds on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, chatting with senators about his next career step. 

Lew, who headed up the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and is President Obama's chief of staff, met with Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee: Sens. Orrin Hatch (Utah), Rob Portman (Ohio), Johnny Isakson (Ga.) and John Cornyn of Texas.

Lawmakers are still waiting on paperwork from Lew, including a questionnaire and tax returns, before deciding when to set up a confirmation hearing. 


LOOSE CHANGE

Spin cycle: Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) applauded on Wednesday a unanimous decision by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) to impose duties on clothes washers from South Korea and Mexico. 

Brown testified last month before the ITC on behalf of Ohio workers at Whirlpool, which has facilities and distribution centers in several Ohio cities. 

"Today’s victory will improve the competitiveness of Whirlpool and manufacturers around the United States," he said. 

"The USITC made the right decision today in standing up against unfair and illegal trade practices."

The ITC ruled that unlawful pricing by Samsung and LG had caused injury to the U.S. clothes washer industry. 

"The actions taken today by the U.S. government represent a great victory for the U.S. appliance industry, especially for our employees and consumers," said Marc Bitzer, president of Whirlpool. 

"We expect this ruling will restore a level competitive playing field that enables Whirlpool and other U.S. manufacturers to continue investing in America to produce the high-quality, innovative products that consumers deserve."

Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman, a former U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), also praised the ruling. 

"I was pleased that the ITC has properly ruled to protect Ohio workers and will provide a more level playing field with their overseas competitors who were found not to obey U.S. trade laws," he said. 


ECONOMIC INDICATORS

Initial Claims: The Labor Department releases its weekly filings for jobless benefits.

Mortgage Rates: Freddie Mac is releasing weekly data on fixed-rate mortgages, which have been hovering around historic lows.  

Leading indicators: The Conference Board will release a batch of previously announced economic indicators for December: new orders, jobless claims, money supply, average workweek, building permits and stock prices. 


WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED

— Financial Services leaders kick off new Congress with spat over 'too big to fail'

— IMF: Modest economic growth in 2013


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