Overnight Finance: Trump moves to begin NAFTA talks | Dems press Treasury chief on taxes, Dodd-Frank | Biz leaders want tax changes to be permanent

Overnight Finance: Trump moves to begin NAFTA talks | Dems press Treasury chief on taxes, Dodd-Frank | Biz leaders want tax changes to be permanent
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Mnuchin mum as Dems press for answers on tax reform, Dodd-Frank: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was mum Thursday about features of the Trump administration's plans to cuts taxes and rollback financial regulations.

Mnuchin appeared before the Senate Banking Committee, his first congressional testimony as Treasury secretary, to update lawmakers on domestic and international policy. He stressed that the department needed time to craft tax policies and review the Dodd-Frank financial reform law before issuing any specific recommendations.

Lawmakers across the aisle peppered him with questions about whether tax reform would increase the debt, which parts of Dodd-Frank the administration would target and various questions about how Trump's economic team would pursue its goals. I report from the hearing: http://bit.ly/2rjJpNz.

Business leaders: Tax changes should be permanent: Business leaders said Thursday that it's "critical" for tax changes to be permanent, as lawmakers debate whether to pursue long-term tax reform or temporary tax cuts.

"Permanence is critical, because I make decisions over three years, five years and 10 years," Emerson Electric Chairman and CEO David Farr said at a House Ways and Means Committee hearing. "I don't make a decision by a quarter."

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Thursday's hearing was the first in a series of Ways and Means hearings on tax reform. Republican leaders of the committee want to pursue comprehensive tax reform legislation that is permanent and revenue neutral after accounting for economic growth.

But other GOP lawmakers have said that they would be open to enacting tax cuts that increase the deficit, even if those tax cuts have to be temporary. The Hill's Naomi Jagoda explains: http://bit.ly/2rjUuhk.

White House tells Congress it will renegotiate NAFTA: U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer notified Congress on Thursday that President Trump intends to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Lighthizer said the United States will rework the 23-year-old trade agreement to support higher-paying jobs here and grow the U.S. economy by improving trading opportunities with Canada and Mexico.

"USTR will now continue consultations with Congress and American stakeholders to create an agreement that advances the interests of America's workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses," Lighthizer wrote.

Since being confirmed last week, Lighthizer has been making the rounds on Capitol Hill to discuss the White House's trade agenda.

The announcement starts a 90-day clock meaning negotiations can begin no earlier than Aug. 16. The Hill's Vicki Needham has more: http://bit.ly/2rjFxf8.

Mexican foreign minister 'ready' to rework NAFTA: Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray says his nation is "ready" to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which President Trump has told Congress he plans to do.

"We are prepared," Videgaray said Thursday in Washington. "We are ready. We understand that this is 25-year-old agreement when it was negotiated."

"The world has changed. We have learned a lot and we can make it better. Better for the people of Mexico, the people of the U.S. and the people of Canada."

The Hill's Mark Hensch has more here: http://bit.ly/2qwRnBu

Happy Thursday and welcome to Overnight Finance. I'm Sylvan Lane, and here's your nightly guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line.

See something I missed? Let me know at slane@thehill.com or tweet me @SylvanLane. And if you like your newsletter, you can subscribe to it here: http://bit.ly/1NxxW2N.

Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownOvernight Finance: House passes spending bill with border wall funds | Ryan drops border tax idea | Russia sanctions bill goes to Trump's desk | Dems grill bank regulator picks Dems grill Trump bank regulator nominees Senate Dems launch talkathon ahead of ObamaCare repeal vote MORE looks to defy Trump trend in Ohio: Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) is a rarity among Democrats -- a liberal considered to have a good shot at reelection in a state President Trump won by an overwhelming margin.

As Democrats try to pick up the pieces from a surprise electoral defeat in 2016, Brown's swing-state politics offer one possible path for the party to win back the Midwestern voters in the white working class who ditched Democrats for Trump. I'll tell you why here, featuring an exclusive interview with Brown: http://bit.ly/2rjJC36.

President Trump's first budget plan to be rolled out without him: When the White House unveils President Trump's full budget plan next week, just one thing will be missing: the president.

Trump is set to begin his first foreign trip as president on Friday, a journey that will take him to Saudi Arabia, Israel and Europe.

It means he'll be away from Washington when the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) releases his blueprint, which it is scheduled to do next week.

In most years, the president takes part in the budget rollout to showcase the administration's priorities. The budget is a political wish list of sorts, a document rich in importance that shows how the administration is seeking to move its agenda and keep its campaign promises.

While the budget director usually does the heavy lifting at the document's unveiling, the president often plays a central role in selling the policy: http://bit.ly/2rjgEk4.

Koch brothers seek to 'jolt' tax reform debate: The conservative political network of billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch on Thursday launched a multi-million dollar push to "jolt" the debate on tax reform.

"Now is the time," network spokesman James Davis told The Associated Press. "We've got to unite around those principles. The White House hopefully will see this as a jolt to support them in driving this forward."

Davis said the network's campaign would run through the summer.

The network's leading organizations, Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Partners, on Thursday also released a set of general preferences for an overhaul of the tax code, which included lowering business tax rates, cutting taxes on investments and eliminating the estate tax, among other things: http://bit.ly/2rjewsw.

Proposed changes to Pentagon purchasing: House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) on Thursday unveiled his latest acquisition reform bill aimed at simplifying how the Pentagon buys goods and services and streamlining its acquisitions bureaucracy.

The draft legislation -- Thornberry's third such package as chairman -- sidesteps past years' goals for faster weapons development. The new bill instead focuses on bringing an Amazon-like online marketplace to the Department of Defense (DOD), cutting down on lengthy and costly program audits and freeing up data for officials to make decisions faster and cheaper, committee aides told reporters Wednesday.

The 80-page draft bill will be open for a month of feedback, and portions will eventually be folded into the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act when it is introduced later this year.

Here are the five biggest changes proposed in the document, what they mean for the DOD and concerns from the other side of the aisle, from The Hill's Ellen Mitchell: http://bit.ly/2rjIPza.

 

Write us with tips, suggestions and news: slane@thehill.comvneedham@thehill.comnjagoda@thehill.com and nelis@thehill.com. Follow us on Twitter: @SylvanLane,  @VickofTheHill@NJagoda and @NivElis