OVERNIGHT FINANCE: Senate looks to ease student loan debt

TOMORROW STARTS TONIGHT: And more precisely, it starts in Mississippi. The GOP’s Tea Party v. establishment political battle will come to a head tonight as Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) could become the first Senate incumbent to lose this cycle amid a primary challenge from state Rep. Chris McDaniel.

--Voters in eight states head to the polls tonight for primaries. But Washington will be watching closely in Iowa, New Jersey and Mississippi where the GOP establishment hopes to fend off the Tea Party. The Hill’s Alexandra Jaffe and Cameron Joseph have tonight’s play-by-play: http://bit.ly/1nLnGaa.

THIS IS OVERNIGHT FINANCE. Let’s go Phils. For a Philly wonk, tonight has it all: baseball and election returns. Tweet: @kevcirilli. Email: kcirilli@thehill.com. Tomorrow is hump day.

FIRST LOOK – FEDS TAKE HITS ON STUDENT LOANS: The Senate Budget Committee will host hearings tomorrow about the impact of the nation’s $1.2 trillion student loan debt on the economy.

The Budget Committee will hear at 10 a.m. from Rohit Chopra, the Consumer Agency’s ‘go-to-guy’ on the issue; as well as Richard Vedder, an economic professor emeritus at Ohio University.

--Vedder will testify: “Our federal financial aid programs have, in my judgment been colossal failures – raising costs, reducing access and quality, and leading to overinvestment of federal resources in higher education.” Vedder’s prepared remarks: http://bit.ly/U9KbZj

Meanwhile, one-floor below ‘em in Dirksen...

Sen. Sherrod Brown’s (D-Ohio) Senate Banking subcommittee will host his own student loan hearing, where he’ll hear from Nancy Hoover, financial aid director at Dennison University; and Will Hubbard, a vice president at Student Veterans of America, who will focus on the problems faced by former servicemembers.

Two takeaways from Hubbard:

1.) Hubbard will criticize the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Education for their handling of veterans’ student loans.

This comes as the administration faces pressure on veterans’ health amid a scandal over long wait times at VA facilities.Hubbardwill describe an outdated “shameful” system, full of headaches because of miscommunication between various departments.

“If a service member or veteran has a 100 percent disability rating by the Department of Veterans Affairs, that status should automatically carryover to their profile within the [Department of Education]. “To require recertification of an individual’s disability rating is shameful, causes unnecessary paperwork and may also result in inaccuracies.”

2.) Hubbard will note that active duty service members with previous student loan debt accrue interest while enlisted.

“When they call their loan servicer to discuss such options, the typical response is that the service member can defer payments until they return from deployment... The service member probably wasn’t informed that they will continue to accrue interest. The sparkling deal they were just ‘sold’ results in their $50k loan becoming a $75k burden.” Hubbard’s testimony: http://bit.ly/1kHjsIt

NUMBERS WATCH: Factory orders increased 0.7 percent after an upwardly revised 1.5 percent advance in March, the Commerce Department said. March's orders had previously been reported as having risen 0.9 percent.

Nissan set a May sales record while General Motors (yes, that General Motors) and Chrysler posted their best May in seven years.

Smooth sailing, right?

FED WORRIES: MARKET CALM BEFORE THE STORM. And no, this time they’re not blaming the winter weather. Jon Hilsenrath for The Wall Street Journal this afternoon:

“Federal Reserve officials, looking out at mostly calm financial markets, are starting to wonder whether tranquility itself is something to worry about... The worry at the Fed is that when investors become unafraid of risk, they start taking more of it, which could lead to trouble down the road.”

--DALLAS FED PREZ RICHARD FISHER: “This indicates a great deal of complacency. When you get complacency you're bound to be surprised at some point.” More of WSJ’s interview with Fisher here: http://on.wsj.com/S4mMGH.

APPROVED: TRIA BILL. Pete Schroeder for the hometown paper: “Legislation that would reauthorize a government backstop for insuring against terrorist attacks is rocketing toward the Senate floor with broad bipartisan support.

“But another extension of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) faces an uncertain future in the House, where conservatives have questioned the need to continue a government program that was passed as a stopgap in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

“The Senate Banking Committee unanimously approved a seven-year extension of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act on Tuesday, as top lawmakers in both parties pressed for speedy consideration by the full Senate.” http://bit.ly/1nMaceb.

CONFIRMED: SHARON BOWEN. The Senate confirmed Sharon Bowen as commissioner of the Commodities Future Trading Commission this afternoon on a 48-46 vote.

Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), as well as all Republicans, voted no.

--SANDERS: “We need regulators who will have the courage to stop the largest Wall Street banks in this country from driving up oil prices in the energy futures market.”

MARK YOUR CALENDAR: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray will give his semi-annual report to Congress before the Senate Banking Committee on Tues., June 10, a committee spokeswoman announced today. 

ON-TAP FOR TOMORROW: The Fed releases its Beige Book at 2 p.m....

VISA LOOKS TO PREEMPT CFPB. Visa announced today they want to put labels on packages for prepaid cards that help consumers identify hidden fees. It’s essentially a nutritional label for prepaid cards.  Any company issuing a pre-paid Visa card would have to apply the standard.

--BACKSTORY: Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) worked with J.P. Morgan Chase back in February to unveil a similar proposal. The prepaid card industry is booming, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is skeptical of many fees financial institutions are charging in the prepaid card industry.

--The CFPB is seeking comment on a single disclosure box proposal of its own. Visa officials did consult with the CFPB officials prior to announcing their disclosure box, but its unclear how the agency will move forward on the issue.

“We are anxious to see what the CFPB does so some of [our release timing] will depend on that,” Cecilia Frew, head of Visa’s prepaid division, told OVERNIGHT FINANCE.


--Travel industry pushes for Poland to join visa waiver program: http://bit.ly/1kHbdvU

--Poll: Consumer confidence hits highest level of year: http://bit.ly/1oTkUiA

--50 Cent accepting bitcoin for new record: http://bit.ly/1m8wUXc           

--SEC charges bitcoin companies: http://bit.ly/1m8x94o

--Panel sets up clash on transportation, housing: http://bit.ly/1h5JwlB

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