OVERNIGHT FINANCE: Ex-Im chief taking fight to Congress

TOMORROW STARTS TONIGHT: Ready for a wonk war? Ex-Im President Fred Hochberg will step onto House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling’s (R-Texas) turf during a 10 a.m. committee hearing on the issue. Expect tons of questions from Ex-Im critics about last night’s Wall Street Journal report alleging cronyism at the bank.

OVERNIGHT FINANCE got our hands on the testimony. Storyhttp://bit.ly/1lnRBlS. And here’s what you need to know...

1.) HOCHBERG PULLS NO PUNCHES: He will blame Washington uncertainty clouding the bank’s reauthorization as hurting businesses abroad... He will tout specific examples of Ex-Im leading to job growth, including in Hensarling’s home state of Texas... He will praise Ex-Im employees for their hard work, but make no mention of Monday’s WSJ report that four workers were investigated for alleged cronyism. Testimony:http://bit.ly/1q5Sy5r.

2.) DELTA VS. BOEING: Delta CEO Richard Anderson will propose a series of amendments to Ex-Im that could lay the groundwork for negotiations over reauthorization... Anderson will criticize Ex-Im for giving Boeing an unfair competitive market advantage, fitting nicely into the characterization that Ex-Im is “the Bank of Boeing.” Delta says the bank helps overseas rivals purchase Boeing aircraft at a discount. Testimony: http://bit.ly/1iCSYxv

3.) HOCHBERG’S KEY QUOTE will come when he describes a small business losing out on a contract to a foreign competitor: "They pointed to the debate surrounding Ex-Im’s reauthorization, and they said: ‘There’s too much uncertainty there—you can’t rely on America.' Can’t rely on America? That’s just wrong."

THIS IS OVERNIGHT FINANCE. Can’t rely on OVERNIGHT FINANCE? That’s just wrong. Tweet: @kevcirilli; email: kcirilli@thehill.com; and to subscribe: click here.

Keep movin’, it’s not even hump day...

DAYS UNTIL EX-IM EXPIRES: 98.

FIRST LOOK – BIZ HITS HARD ON EX-IM SUPPORT. The Houston Greater Partnership, consisting of 14 Chambers of Commerce in the Houston region, sent a letter today to the Houston regional congressional delegation urging Ex-Im reauthorization, as well as members of the House Financial Services Committee – including Hensarling.

They write: “This letter represents strong support for the reauthorization of Ex-Im Bank by 14 chambers of commerce in the Houston region representing 10,951 companies and over 730,000 employees. As the voice of the business community across our region, we are directly connected to both small businesses and major corporations that use Ex-Im Bank to gain access to foreign markets and create jobs.” Read letter: http://bit.ly/1jMbONQ

HAPPENING TOMORROW – GDP REVISIONJim O’Sullivan, chief economist for High Frequency Economics, in a note to investors: “A sizable downward revision to already weak Q1 real GDP is widely anticipated, although we suspect the -1.8% consensus figure is still not negative enough.

“We have -2.1%, and even that estimate assumes some fading of the revision to health care consumption implied by the Quarterly Services Survey. In any event, the contraction looks like an aberration, likely due to weather effects and other sources of volatility.”

HAPPENING TONIGHT – COCHRAN PRIMARY, Caitlin Cammia with the primer for USA Today: “Cochran, a six-term Republican, is trying to fend off Tea Party challenger Chris McDaniel, who forced the senator into a runoff for the GOP nomination.

“McDaniel has been stressing that Cochran has driven up the nation's debt through his work on the Appropriations Committee. McDaniel, a state senator and former talk radio host, also supports term limits and notes Cochran was first elected to the U.S. House in 1972 and to the U.S. Senate in 1978.” http://usat.ly/1nAW02K.

--NYT HEADLINE: “As Cochran Courts Blacks, Tea Party Vows to Police Polls.”http://nyti.ms/1lNJw9D.

-- OFFICIAL: IRS BROKE LAW ON EMAILS, Eileen Sullivan for The Associated Press: “The Internal Revenue Service did not follow the law when it failed to report the loss of records belonging to a senior IRS executive, the nation's top archivist told Congress Tuesday.

“‘Any agency is required to notify us when they realize they have a problem,’ David Ferriero, archivist of the U.S., said during a House Oversight and Government Reform committee hearing.

“In June 2011, former IRS executive Lois Lerner's computer crashed, resulting in the loss of records that are sought in investigations into the agency targeting conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status. At the time, the agency tried to recover the records, but without success.” http://abcn.ws/1quFQLd.

QUOTABLE,  Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to reporters on Ex-Im reauthorization: “My job is to work with our members to get to a place where the members are comfortable. Some people believe that we shouldn’t have it at all. Others believe that we should reauthorize it with significant reforms, and we’re going to work our way through this.” Russell Berman for the hometown paper: http://bit.ly/TgDfs4.

NOTABLE, Sens. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.) are trying to pass unemployment benefits again. They introduced new legislation on Tuesday that would provide five months of benefits at a cost of $10 billion and restart the emergency program that expired on Dec. 28. Vicki Needham for The Hill: http://bit.ly/1lnSbA1.

-- WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE? Heller communications director Chandler Smith emails OF on the tweaks in this bill versus its previous incarnation:

“The new Reed-Heller bill provides prospective emergency benefits and allows eligible job seekers who were cutoff on December 28 to pick up where they left off in the UI claims process.

“The Reed-Heller bill that was passed by the Senate reauthorized emergency unemployment insurance benefits for five months. The plan allowed for retroactive payments to eligible beneficiaries going back to December 28, 2013. This bill also removes an offset that may end up costing money now and extended pension smoothing by a year to make up for that.”

OVERNIGHT NOTE: Last night, we posted a story about Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) heading to West Virginia in July to campaign for Democratic senatorial candidate Natalie Tennant, and what Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) had to say about it.

Warren spokeswoman Lacey Rose did not respond to a request for comment, but Tennant spokeswoman Jennifer Donahue responded with a public statement from Warren sent to reporters on the campaign event. We’ve updated our story: http://bit.ly/1jKlh8i.

AT LUNCH, WARREN TALKS HILLARY, with columnist Ruth Marcus: “When I ask about what she made of Clinton's book-tour comment about being "dead broke" on leaving the White House, Warren paused for a full 19 seconds.

“‘Um, I was surprised,’ she finally said. ‘But, families across this country are working so hard to hold together,’ she added, veering into an unrelated disquisition.” Marcus’s column at USA Today: http://delonline.us/1qHELlo.

Meanwhile, in Denver...

BILL BACKS HILL ON DEBT COMMENTS: Former President Bill Clinton on Tuesday defended his wife Hillary Clinton's recent comments on wealth, saying she is “not out of touch.”

In a discussion with NBC's David Gregory as part of the Clinton Global Initiative, the former president backed up his wife's remarks about being “dead broke” when the couple left the White House. 

“It is factually true that we were several million dollars in debt,” Clinton said, as Hillary Clinton and his daughter Chelsea looked on. The former president argued that the reporters asking his wife the questions “should put this in some sort of context.” The Hill’s Amie Parnes reports from Denver: http://bit.ly/1quMtx3

POT PLAYGROUND – WASHINGTON STATE, via Reuters: “Washington state, which is moving forward on allowing stores to sell pot for recreational use, will require child-resistant packaging on marijuana products, Gov. Jay Inslee said on Tuesday.

“Inslee, a Democrat, told reporters at a news conference that state officials are particularly concerned about ways to keep marijuana away from those under the age of 21, especially children.” http://reut.rs/1v3cdR8.

PASSED: CFTC REAUTHORIZATION IN THE HOUSE, by The Hill’s Cristina Marcos: “The House on Tuesday passed legislation to reauthorize the Commodity Futures Trading Commission through fiscal 2018.” http://bit.ly/1nDatKr.

SOLID HOUSING REPORTS. Tuesday’s housing numbers were solid, as Andrew Flowers notes for FiveThirtyEight: “In the past few years, U.S. home prices have risen robustly while sales of new homes bumped along at historically low levels. Data released Tuesday may signal a reversal of these trends: a cooling off in prices and a strong uptick in sales.” http://53eig.ht/1lNwNns.

SCHOCK ‘FULLY SUPPORTS’ EX-IM, via me: “Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) on Tuesday said he continues to support the Export-Import Bank despite withdrawing his name from a letter urging Congress to renew its charter.

“‘Mr. Schock fully supports reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank and recognizes this is an issue that the Republican conference is willing to deal with at the appropriate time and in the appropriate way,’ said Schock senior aide Benjamin Cole.

“Schock’s name was on the original version of a letter from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers urging renewal of the bank. When it was released, it bore the names of 41 Republicans — but not Schock.”http://bit.ly/1pgGEGe.

SMART TAKE – WHY WALL STREET FEARS ‘BRIDGEGATE’ LAW, by William Alden for Dealbook: “The Christie administration and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey are feeling the pressure of a prosecutorial tool that is feared on Wall Street.

“According to an article in The New York Times on Tuesday, the Manhattan district attorney is working with the Securities and Exchange Commission in an investigation of possible securities law violations stemming from a $1.8 billion agreement in 2011 to repair the Pulaski Skyway, the roadway connecting Newark and Jersey City.

“But the Manhattan prosecutors, led by Cyrus Vance Jr., have a weapon the S.E.C. lacks: the Martin Act. This New York State law sets a relatively low bar for bringing fraud cases, enabling a succession of New York attorneys general to wield it against Wall Street firms like Merrill Lynch and JPMorgan Chase.” http://nyti.ms/1nC4LIC 

ON-TAP FOR TOMORROW: 10 a.m. House markup of FinServ appropriations bill...  Senate Banking Committee votes to advance Julian Castro as secretary of Housing and Urban Development... Treasury Secretary Lew testifies to Senate Banking about Financial Stability Oversight Council... Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) hosts a Banking subcommittee hearing on student loans at 2:30 p.m. ...Senate Finance hosts nomination hearing on D. Nathan Sheets to be Treasury undersecretary. ... Senate Finance has a Trade hearing at 2 p.m.

MORE FROM THE HILL’s TEAM:

-- ‘Zero tolerance’ for corruption at Ex-Im bank, says White House:http://bit.ly/1rvvP0a.

-- McConnell: Senate should move Ex-Im bill: http://bit.ly/1rvx53f.

 

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