OVERNIGHT MONEY: Obama seeking common ground

In recent days, there have been countless studies that detail how the automatic spending cuts would damage the overall economy. 

While Obama is likely to outline some legislative goals for the year, he could do that in the context of a greater vision — the importance of Washington working together on the issues where the parties' paths cross, especially with the goal of speeding up the nation's economic recovery amid persistently high unemployment. 

There will probably be some talk about Obama's vision on the nation's budget struggles and the battles ahead — including the looming sequestration and government funding for the rest of the fiscal year. 

While the president could contrast his approach with the GOP's plans, he might point out where the parties agree and hammer home those points.

As The Hill's Alex Bolton reported, there have been several signs lately that the ice of gridlock is thawing — Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidWATCH: There is no Trump-Russia collusion and the media should stop pushing this The demise of debate in Congress ‘North by Northwest,’ the Carter Page remake MORE (D-Nev.) forged a deal with Republican Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellLawmakers feel pressure on guns Bipartisan group of House lawmakers urge action on Export-Import Bank nominees Curbelo Dem rival lashes out over immigration failure MORE (Ky.) to reform the filibuster rule; Sen. Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerDemocrats now attack internet rules they once embraced Schumer: Trump budget would ‘cripple’ gun background checks Schumer: Senate Republicans' silence 'deafening' on guns, Russia MORE (D-N.Y.) praised House Majority Leader Eric CantorEric Ivan CantorFeehery: The governing party 'Release the memo' — let's stop pretending that Democrats are the defenders of the FBI Raúl Labrador, a model for Hispanic politicians reaching higher MORE (R-Va.); bipartisan groups of House and Senate lawmakers are teaming up on immigration; a bipartisan House bill has been launched to stiffen penalties against straw purchasers of firearms; and House freshmen are planning a bipartisan bowling session this month.

We'll see if the speech leads to more of these types of deals amid a flurry of budget challenges.


Budget debut: Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn Murray30 million people will experience eating disorders — the CDC needs to help Mulvaney remarks on Trump budget plan spark confusion Overnight Finance: Mulvaney sparks confusion with budget remarks | Trump spars with lawmakers on tariffs | Treasury looks to kill 300 tax regs | Intel chief's warning on debt MORE (D-Wash.) will hold her first hearing as the new chairwoman of the Senate Budget Committee on Tuesday. The committee will hear from Doug Elmendorf, director of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), who will present the nonpartisan agency's annual budget baseline outlook, which was released on Feb. 5. 

CBO is forecasting that the deficit would fall this year to $845 billion, the first sub-trillion deficit under President Obama. Elmendorf will show why he expects the the deficit to decline in the middle part of the decade only to return to the $1 trillion by around 2023, as an aging population and soaring healthcare costs weigh on the budget. 

Murray is slated to insist on an approach of spending cuts and more tax increases to get fiscal matters under control. 

The hearing will showcase the relationship with panel ranking member Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsUnder pressure, Trump shifts blame for Russia intrusion Overnight Tech: Judge blocks AT&T request for DOJ communications | Facebook VP apologizes for tweets about Mueller probe | Tech wants Treasury to fight EU tax proposal Overnight Regulation: Trump to take steps to ban bump stocks | Trump eases rules on insurance sold outside of ObamaCare | FCC to officially rescind net neutrality Thursday | Obama EPA chief: Reg rollback won't stand MORE (R-Ala.), who brings a prosecutorial zeal to the budget process. 

Sequester replacement confab: Barring any last-minute hurdles, Senate Democrats plan to discuss legislation to replace the $85 billion sequester at their weekly policy lunch on Tuesday. 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) hopes to brief members on a package that would include a mix of tax increases and spending cuts, and get the go-ahead from lawmakers to introduce a measure by Thursday. That would set in motion procedures for a final vote the week of Feb. 25, only a few days head of the March 1 sequestration deadline. 

The Senate Armed Services Committee will explore on Tuesday what impact the across-the-board cuts to discretionary and defense spending would mean with a wide range of Defense Department officials. 

On Monday night, Democratic aides said their proposal is still under construction.

They have said a replacement package could reflect parts of what Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.), the top Democrat at the House Budget Committee, offered up last week.

Van Hollen and Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), a member of the Budget panel, will discuss the federal budget on Tuesday at the National Press Club. 

The New York Times reported Monday that Senate Democrats were nearing completion of $120 billion package that would include elements of Van Hollen's proposal.

The House Democratic plan would eliminate subsidies to agribusinesses, scrap tax preferences used by oil-and-gas companies and implement a new minimum tax rate on people making seven figures a year — the proposal commonly known as the “Buffett Rule.” 

On Monday, Senate Democrats began to take steps toward a solution to avoid sequestration by closing tax loopholes.

Sens. Carl LevinCarl Milton LevinSen. Gillibrand, eyeing 2020 bid, rankles some Democrats The Hill's 12:30 Report Congress needs bipartisanship to fully investigate Russian influence MORE (D-Mich.) and Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseCommittee chairman aims for House vote on opioid bills by Memorial Day Regulators seek to remove barriers to electric grid storage Prison sentencing bill advances over Sessions objections MORE (D-R.I.) said they had two bills: one that would avoid the automatic spending cuts set to take place next month for one year, and a second bill that would close enough tax loopholes to provide revenue to turn off the sequester for the next 10 years.

Levin said tax loopholes for corporations drain the U.S. Treasury and shift the burden to middle-class families. He specifically targeted tax loopholes that allow corporations to hold assets overseas, deduct corporate stock options and deductions for large oil companies.

While lawmakers move forward, most market professionals do not believe the White House and Congress will strike a deal to avoid automatic spending cuts, and the stock market will pay the price as a result.


Not your run of the Mill(s) departure: Karen Mills, the head of the Small Business Administration (SBA), on Monday became the latest departure from President Obama's Cabinet.

“After four years as Administrator of the SBA, I have let President Obama know that I will not be staying for a second term. I will stay on until my successor is confirmed to ensure a smooth and seamless transition,” Mills wrote in a note to SBA staff.

Mills has served for nearly four years in the administration, and became a member of the Cabinet a little more than a year ago, after the president elevated the SBA administrator to his inner circle.

Obama credited Mills for her efforts to support start-ups and entrepreneurs and in seeing through the passage of the Small Business Jobs Act.

"I asked Karen to lead the SBA because I knew she had the skills and experience to help America’s small businesses recover from the worst economic crisis in generations — and that’s exactly what she’s done," Obama said.

Looking at Lew: Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max BaucusMax Sieben Baucus2020 Dems pose a big dilemma for Schumer Steady American leadership is key to success with China and Korea Orrin Hatch, ‘a tough old bird,’ got a lot done in the Senate MORE (D-Mont.) said his panel would quickly confirm Jack Lew to be the next Treasury secretary.

However, the top Republican on the panel said Lew should be properly grilled, in particular when it comes to the time he spent at the bank Citigroup.

The panel is lined up to consider Lew's nomination on Wednesday.

"We have a tremendous amount of work to do over the next couple months to get our fiscal house in order," he said in a statement. 

"It is my hope that — after this thorough vetting process — Jack LewJacob (Jack) Joseph LewBig tech lobbying groups push Treasury to speak out on EU tax proposal Overnight Finance: Hatch announces retirement from Senate | What you can expect from new tax code | Five ways finance laws could change in 2018 | Peter Thiel bets big on bitcoin Ex-Obama Treasury secretary: Tax cuts 'leaving us broke' MORE will be quickly confirmed so he can help tackle our country's pressing economic issues."

The panel's ranking member, Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchOvernight Finance: NAFTA defenders dig in | Tech pushes Treasury to fight EU on taxes | AT&T faces setback in merger trial | Dems make new case against Trump tax law | Trump fuels fight over gas tax What sort of senator will Mitt Romney be? Not a backbencher, even day one Lawmaker interest in NAFTA intensifies amid Trump moves MORE (R-Utah), said he needs a better understanding of Lew’s role at Citigroup as well as his knowledge of financial markets before deciding if he will support his nomination. 

"The American people will want to know what his role was there and how that might have prepared him for this critical job after the most severe financial crisis and prolonged economic downturn in generations," Hatch said in a statement.  

"After all, as Treasury secretary, he would be leading efforts dealing with international financial markets, global banking rules, exchange rates and a host of domestic policies ranging from housing and mortgage markets to oversight of entitlement trust funds.”

Haggling for Hagel: Senate Democratic leaders are aiming to clear former Sen. Chuck HagelCharles (Chuck) Timothy HagelIntel chief: Federal debt poses 'dire threat' to national security Hagel: Trump is 'an embarrassment' Tax cut complete, hawks push for military increase MORE’s (R-Neb.) nomination by Thursday even as Republicans are threatening to block his confirmation. 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Monday he would move Hagel’s nomination as Defense secretary quickly to the floor following a Tuesday vote by the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Reid said he expected a floor vote on Wednesday or Thursday, and was “confident” that there would not be a filibuster, despite the Republicans’ rhetoric.


Treasury Budget: The Treasury Department releases its January budget data, which is used mostly by the market for year-over-year changes in receipts and outlays. 


— Russia suspends US meat imports over use of feed additive

— Official: Job woes drive Fed action

— Carney: Obama won't back higher Medicare age

— Watchdog: Former SEC employees helping shield corporations from regulations

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