Week ahead: House to vote on budget | Equifax, Wells Fargo execs on the hot seat | Tax reform push picks up

Week ahead: House to vote on budget | Equifax, Wells Fargo execs on the hot seat | Tax reform push picks up
© Greg Nash

It's shaping up to be a busy week for lawmakers as they roll up their sleeves to begin advancing tax reform and hold a number of high-profile hearings on the recent Equifax data breach and the financial scandals at Wells Fargo.

The House is set to vote on a fiscal 2018 budget. That will also open the door to Republicans using the reconciliation process to push tax reform through with just a majority, avoiding a Democratic filibuster in the Senate.

It's a breakthrough moment for the House where the budget has been long delayed. It passed out of the Budget Committee earlier this year but lacked the support for a floor vote, as conservatives held out and demanded more details on tax reform.

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The Senate Budget Committee has also unveiled their resolution. The committee is expected to mark up its budget in the coming week.

President Trump and congressional Republicans finally unveiled their tax reform framework on Wednesday, which would slash taxes, consolidate brackets and scrap many deductions.

The plan would cut the corporate tax rate from 35 to 20 percent. It also calls for three individual tax rates, set at 12 percent, 25 percent and 35 percent.

The outline received near unanimous approval from GOP lawmakers and business groups.

But the tax plan is far from complete, and lawmakers are now approaching the hard part: figuring out which prized deductions, each backed by key stakeholders, will be on the chopping block.

President Trump has been out in front, pitching the plan. In a speech to manufacturers on Friday he called the tax overhaul a "giant, beautiful, massive" tax cut that would help make American business more competitive.

Trump and GOP lawmakers, though, are facing immense pressure to deliver on their long-sought goal. Republican leaders are optimistic, but know they have little room for missteps after failing to repeal ObamaCare. Several GOP lawmakers have warned of grave electoral consequences for the party if they can't pass a single legislative priority with a unified Republican government.

And with little more than a year until the 2018 midterms, which is shaping up to be a tough fight for GOP incumbents, the party faces a tight timeline to pass their tax plan.

Tax reform won't be the only big story on Capitol Hill in the coming week.

Former Equifax CEO Richard Smith will be on the hot seat as he testifies before three committees in the coming week on the credit reporting company's hack.

The breach, which may have exposed financial information and personal data of as many as 144 million Americans, has sparked outrage. Lawmakers are demanding answers on how the company has handled the breach, the steps its taking to help customers affected, and about stock sales Equifax executives made before the public was told about the hack.

Smith retired from the company on Tuesday and other Equifax executives have also stepped down in recent days.

Smith is slated to appear before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Tuesday morning, followed by the Senate Banking panel on Wednesday and the House Financial Services panel on Thursday.

Some lawmakers are already calling for companies to step up their cybersecurity and weighing whether federal agencies should put in place tougher rules on notifying the public of hacks.

It'll be a tough week for executives of Wells Fargo as well.

Wells Fargo CEO Timothy Sloan will appear before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday, one year after it was revealed that the bank opened and charged customers for roughly 2 million accounts without their consent.

Then-CEO John Stumpf appeared before the Senate Banking and House Financial Services panels, where many lawmakers from both parties said he should face jail time.

Sloan will testify before the Senate panel while his bank faces new scandals over its sales practices.

The bank may have reportedly opened almost twice as many fake accounts as first revealed, and Wells Fargo was also caught signing customers up for unnecessary auto insurance and life insurance plans. The bank also paid $108 million to the government to settle a lawsuit that claimed it charged veterans hidden fees to refinance their mortgages.

Also on the Hill, the House Financial Services panel will host Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mel Watt on Tuesday.

Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Jay Clayton testifies before that panel on Wednesday. Clayton will likely face tough questions about the hack of the SEC's EDGAR financial filing system, from which hackers stole and traded on insider information.

Clayton testified before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday, where he told lawmakers that the agency still doesn't know the full extent of the hack.

 

Your week ahead:

Tuesday:

  • House Financial Services Committee: Hearing entitled "Sustainable Housing Finance: An Update from the Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency," Mel Watt, 10 a.m. http://bit.ly/2yy5asC.
  • Senate Banking Committee: Hearing entitled "Wells Fargo: One Year Later" with Wells Fargo CEO Timothy Sloan, 10 a.m. http://bit.ly/2yxvDa0.
  • Senate Finance Committee: Hearing on international tax reform, 10 a.m. http://bit.ly/2yxzRhD.
  • Joint Economic Committee: Hearing entitled "The Startup Slump: Can Tax Reform Help Revive American Entrepreneurship," 10 a.m. http://bit.ly/2yxdYPy.
  • House Energy and Commerce Committee: Hearing entitled "Oversight of the Equifax Data Breach: Answers for Consumers," with Equifax CEO Richard Smith, 10 a.m. http://bit.ly/2yNfsWR.

Wednesday:

  • House Financial Services Committee: Hearing entitled "Examining the SEC's Agenda, Operations, and Budget" with SEC Chairman Jay Clayton, 10 a.m. http://bit.ly/2yxxgEl.
  • House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight: Hearing on the Internal Revenue Service's information technology modernization efforts, 10 a.m. http://bit.ly/2yxwHKN.
  • Senate Banking Committee: Hearing entitled "An Examination of the Equifax Cybersecurity Breach" with former Equifax CEO Richard Smith, 10 a.m. http://bit.ly/2yxBhsJ.
  • Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law: Hearing entitled "Equifax: Continuing to Monitor Data-Broker Cybersecurity," http://bit.ly/2yMcK42.

Thursday:

  • House Financial Services Committee: Hearing entitled "Examining the Equifax Data Breach" with former Equifax CEO Richard Smith, 9:15 a.m. http://bit.ly/2yy6OKK.
  • Senate Finance Committee: Hearing to consider the nominations of Jeffrey Gerrish,to be a Deputy United States Trade Representative, Gregory Doud  to be Chief Agricultural Negotiator, Office of the United States Trade Representative, and Jason Kearns, to be a member of the United States International Trade Commission, 10 a.m. http://bit.ly/2yyjvp0.

 

Recap the week with Overnight Finance:

Monday: CBO predicts millions will lose coverage under repeal bill | Trump to pitch tax reform plan in Indiana | AIG downsizing | SEC under scrutiny after hack

Tuesday: What to watch for in GOP tax plan rollout | IRS sharing info with special counsel probe | SEC doesn't know full extent of hack | New sanctions target North Korean banks

Wednesday: Trump pitches massive tax cuts | Freedom Caucus endorses plan | Dems slam framework | House GOP to move $10B border wall bill | Officials under fire for private jet use

Thursday: Red-state Dems need more from Trump on taxes | States, counties worry about tax plan | Price to pay back part of private jet costs | House sends FAA extension to Trump | Bill would exempt some banks from Dodd-Frank

 

Today's stories:

Senate budget would scrap 28-hour wait time to vote

Senate GOP sets path for Alaska refuge drilling

Analysis: Tax plan would cost $2.4T, benefit wealthy most

Sanders, Schumer rip GOP budget resolution

Equifax hack targeted specific accounts: report

 

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