OVERNIGHT FINANCE: Russia hit with new sanctions

QUOTABLE: DICK DURBIN (D-Ill.). The Senate majority whip was asked in a press scrum earlier today how to increase Congressional bipartisanship: “I don’t know – a kegger?”

TOMORROW STARTS TONIGHT: US, EU HIT RUSSIA WITH SANCTIONS. We’ve got you covered, two quick points:

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1.) The primer - - > Rebecca Shabad for The Hill: “President Obama announced Tuesday that the United States, in coordination with Europe, is expanding sanctions against Russia due to its assistance to rebels in eastern Ukraine and the downing of a Malaysia Airlines flight... [Obama said that on Monday] he spoke on a video conference call to his European counterparts: British Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and French President Francois Hollande.” Shabad’s story: http://bit.ly/1n0bMT1.

2.) Dig deeper into the weeds - - > The administration is blocking exports to the Russian energy sector, a key economic market for Putin. They’re also sanctioning major Russian banks and companies and halting Export-Import financing to Russia.  What’s important to note here is that the EU followed suit. Had they not, Russia simply would’ve taken their business to Europe. My take on Ex-Im’s action on Russiahttp://bit.ly/1xvYweT.

— NOT THE ONION: “The president made the right decision,” House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) on the administration’s halting Ex-Im financing to Russia.

THIS IS OVERNIGHT FINANCE, and chin-up – if you didn’t make this year’s 50 Most Beautiful list, there’s always next year! Tweet: @kevcirilli; email: kcirilli@thehill.com; and subscribe: http://thehill.com/signup/48.

HAPPENING NOW: The Senate is voting on amendments to the Highway Funding bill.

HOT TICKET: The Hill’s #50MB bash tonight in Washington. And in case you’ve been living under a rock all day, here’s the link to this year’s list: http://bit.ly/X97XWq. Shout-out to The Hill’s Judy Kurtz (@JudyKurtz) for her hard work in organizing this year’s list.

— SUBTWEET OF THE DAY, @SenRandPaul, who came in at No. 9 on #50MB: “Congrats to my friend @CoryBooker for being #44 out of 50 on The Hill's Most Beautiful List.”

READ THIS BEFORE TOMORROW’S FED STATEMENT - - > Paul Davidson for USA Today: “With the Federal Reserve all but certain to continue winding down its economic stimulus this week, analysts will be scouring its statement for changes that could shed light on when it will begin raising interest rates.

At its two-day meeting that ends Wednesday, the Fed is expected to further reduce its purchases of Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities, to $25 billion a month from $35 billion. Citing a strengthening labor market, Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen has said the program, which is intended to hold down long-term interest rates and spur the economy, will likely end in October.” http://usat.ly/1o9Q8fm.

— ALSO COMING TOMORROW: Commerce announced first estimate of second quarter GDP. Expect about a 3 percent growth estimate.

GOOD NEWS – CONSUMER CONFIDENCE SOARS: Vicki Needham reports: “Consumer confidence hit its highest level in nearly seven years with recent jobs growth boosting sentiment, a positive sign for the rest of the year.” http://bit.ly/1pCNWP1.

DAYS UNTIL EX-IM EXPIRES: 63. OVERNIGHT caught up with both Durbin and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) who both told us that it’s now likely that reauthorization will move through a continuing resolution process in September. That’s something we reported last week, but now it looks like that’s the general consensus. Graham, who supports Ex-Im, said a CR-route is “probably” the way it’s going to get reauthorized. “I think that’s the best way to make sure it happens and it’s that important to our economy,” Graham said. Added Durbin, also supports Ex-Im, in a separate interview: “That’s not going to happen until September.”

— Meanwhile, House GOPers and Ex-Im critics continued to bash the bank that they see as little more than corporate welfare. Here’s my recap from this morning’s House hearing: http://bit.ly/1o9OoTn.Tomorrow night, House FinServ Democrats will speak in favor of Ex-Im on the House floor.

SIDESHOW: House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said that talk of impeaching Obama is a “scam” designed by the White House to drum-up liberal support at the polls for the midterms. Cristina Marcos for The Hill: http://bit.ly/1rBHhXF.

NOTABLE – SPORTS BLINK: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saying that the Washington Redskins’ team name is “insensitive.” Mario Trujillo for The Hill: http://bit.ly/XbCF1k.

2016 WATCH – HRC THE NEW ROMNEY? Conservative PAC AmericaRising is out with a new YouTube video today from her interview with Jorge Ramos for Fusion. The 15-second clip features Clinton not answering how much money she’s worth. What do you think, will these attacks stick? Video: http://bit.ly/1nS8HKP. The full interview airs tonight.

AFRICA WATCH, via Vicki Needham for The Hill: “America's approach to trade with Africa needs to focus more on reciprocal agreements and less on trade preferences, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said Tuesday.

“Froman said U.S. trade interests are doing a comprehensive review ahead of a renewal of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) to determine what changes should be made.” http://bit.ly/1qJhdOt.

SHUTDOWN OVER EX-IM? Or simply more politicking? Alexandra Jaffe for The Hill: “Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel (N.Y.) on Tuesday left the door open to the possibility of another shutdown due to the battle over reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank...

“Asked at a breakfast briefing hosted by the Christian Science Monitor about the likelihood of another shutdown due to the conflict over the Ex-Im Bank, Israel compared the situation to the last shutdown, noting that was largely seen as unlikely until it happened.” http://bit.ly/1nFchHk.

WARNER PUSHES FOR REFORM AT SEC Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) is continuing to push for changes at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). In a letter sent today to Chairwoman Mary Jo White, Warner urged SEC officials to hurry up and finish an audit trail for high-frequency trading. Read his letter here: http://bit.ly/1o0gVPx

EX-IM / RUSSIA BACKSTORY: Ex-Im officials had been quietly prepping for today’s sanctions for months before Obama made the formal announcement today at the White House. A top Ex-Im official emailed OVERNIGHT:

“As we do with any and all entities sanctioned by the U.S. government, Ex-Im Bank has worked quickly and diligently to ensure full compliance with sanctions placed on Russian individuals and companies. As for today, here’s what we did and why...

“As a result of the increased sanctions against the Russian Federation expected to be announced today by the United States and the European Union, there is an expected increased risk that retaliatory actions and other unanticipated events will materially affect reasonable assurance of repayment from legal entities in the Russian Federation.

“As a result, and in order to act prudentially in managing Ex-Im Bank’s portfolio and ongoing business in the days ahead, an immediate Temporary Administrative Hold has been placed on new business with the Russian Federation.

“As per the Administrative Hold Guidelines, while the Temporary Administrative Hold is in effect, letters of interest will not be issued and new commitments under any program will not be approved and disbursements will not occur under operative commitments unless they are irrevocable commitments (eg issued letters of credit).

“Ex-Im Bank has taken this action as a prudential measure pending determination of further actions which it may deem appropriate as the situation develops further.

“The Export-Import Bank of the United States has been reviewing for several months the geopolitical and economic situation in regard to the Russian Federation in light of the conflict in Ukraine and possible ramifications for international trade and payments flows. Ex-Im Bank has not approved any Medium Term or Long Term transactions with the Russian Federation or parties there from since February 2014.”

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