Overnight Finance: GOP offers measure to repeal arbitration rule | Feds fine Exxon $2M for Russian sanctions violations | Senate panel sticks with 2017 funding levels for budget | Trump tax nominee advances | Trump unveils first reg agenda

Overnight Finance: GOP offers measure to repeal arbitration rule | Feds fine Exxon $2M for Russian sanctions violations | Senate panel sticks with 2017 funding levels for budget | Trump tax nominee advances | Trump unveils first reg agenda
© Greg Nash

GOP lawmakers introduce measures to repeal consumer bureau arbitration rule: Senate and House lawmakers introduced companion measures on Thursday to repeal the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's (CFPB) recently issued arbitration rule.

More than a dozen Republican senators, including most GOP members of the Senate Banking Committee, offered a resolution Thursday morning to repeal the CFPB rule under the Congressional Review Act (CRA). GOP lawmakers on the House Financial Services Committee announced that they'd introduce an identical resolution soon after. No Democrats joined either effort.

The new CFPB rule forces companies to write arbitration clauses in ways that wouldn't prevent consumers from joining class-action lawsuits. It also forces financial firms to hand over information about "initial claims and counterclaims, answers to these claims and counterclaims, and awards issued in arbitration." I have more here:  http://bit.ly/2uGoCow.

 

Feds fine Exxon $2M for violating Russia sanctions while Tillerson was CEO: The Treasury Department on Thursday fined Exxon Mobil Corp. $2 million for violating sanctions against Russia while now-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was CEO of the company.

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According to an enforcement filing from Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), Exxon in 2014 signed "eight legal documents related to oil and gas projects in Russia" with Igor Sechin, the president of Rosneft, a Moscow-owned oil company. Sechin was the subject of U.S. sanctions on Russia following its incursion into Crimea. 

Exxon is challenging the fine in court, saying previous government statements about the Russia sanctions implied they would be able to work with Rosneft. The Hill's Devin Henry explains:  http://bit.ly/2uGER59.

 

Senate ignores Trump, House budgets in favor of 2017 funding levels: The Senate Appropriations Committee departed from the budget plans of President Trump and the House, choosing to stick to 2017 funding levels for its fiscal 2018 spending plan.

The committee's funding guidance laid out on Thursday $1.07 trillion in discretionary funding: $551 billion for defense and $518.5 billion for non-defense, with an additional $103.7 billion for the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) fund, which does not count toward budget caps.

On Wednesday, the House Budget Committee approved a $1.1 trillion resolution that increased defense spending by $70.5 billion and cut non-defense spending by $7.5 billion compared to 2017 levels; it also cut OCO spending by $16.7 billion. 

"Negotiations with Congress and the President may eventually produce a new budget agreement. Until such time, however, it is reasonable that we move forward using fiscal year 2017 funding levels," said committee Chairman Thad CochranWilliam (Thad) Thad CochranGOP Senate candidate doubles down on Robert E. Lee despite Twitter poll GOP Senate candidate polls followers on whether Robert E. Lee was hero or villain Mississippi courthouse named for Thad Cochran MORE (R-Miss.). The Hill's Niv Elis reports: http://bit.ly/2uH0a6x.

 

Ryan: 20 percent corporate tax rate 'very realistic': Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanKrystal Ball: GOP tax cut is 'opiate of the massively privileged' Top GOP lawmaker: Tax cuts will lower projected deficit GOP super PAC seizes on Ellison abuse allegations in ads targeting Dems MORE (R-Wis.) said Thursday that a 20 percent corporate tax rate is "very realistic," despite news reports that the rate could end up higher than that.

"That's the plan that we put in the House, and there are other ways of getting to that rate than just the House blueprint plan," Ryan said at a news conference at a New Balance factory in Massachusetts.

The tax-reform blueprint Ryan released last year proposed lowering the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent, while the one-page tax plan the White House released in April called for a 15-percent corporate rate. But Politico reported this week that the White House is now discussing a rate in the low 20-percent range. The Hill's Naomi Jagoda reports: http://bit.ly/2uGNb4S.

 

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.

 

House committee advances budget resolution: The House Budget Committee on Wednesday approved the fiscal 2018 budget resolution that would increase military spending, produce billions in cuts to mandatory spending and open the door for a Republican tax reform plan.

"With the election of President Trump, our budget goes from being a vision document to being a governing document that outlines how we build a better America for our children and grandchildren," said committee Chairwoman Diane BlackDiane Lynn BlackTrump’s endorsements cement power but come with risks The Hill's Morning Report — Trump optimistic about GOP’s midterm prospects as Republicans fret Women poised to take charge in Dem majority MORE (R-Tenn.), who praised the accompanying plan to balance the budget in a decade and reduce the national debt.

The resolution passed along party lines with the 22 Republicans supporting and the 14 Democrats opposing it after a grueling 12-hour markup. It allocated $621.5 billion for defense spending, $511 billion for nondefense discretionary spending and mandated $203 billion in mandatory spending cuts over the course of a decade. The Hill's Niv Elis reports: http://bit.ly/2uGSBMX.

 

Trump unveils first regulatory agenda: The Trump administration for the first time is mapping out its plans to cut down on the nation's regulatory rulebook with the release of its first agenda.

The semi-annual Unified Regulatory Agenda published by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on Thursday is a policy blueprint of sorts for federal agencies.

Under the Obama administration, it focused largely on which new health and safety protections would take priority.

But the focus has now shifted to rolling back rules instead of creating new ones.

Federal agencies announced plans in the new agenda to withdraw 469 actions that were proposed in the fall of 2016 and to reconsider another 391 active actions. Of those 391 active actions, 282 are reclassified as long-term rulemaking priorities and another 109 actions are listed as in need of careful review.

The Hill's Lydia Wheeler has the details: http://bit.ly/2tksJmA

 

Realtors endorse House flood insurance extension: The National Association of Realtors (NAR) endorsed a House plan to renew and revamp the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) after holding out for several changes.

NAR said Thursday that the group representing more than 1.2 million realtors backed the bill after lawmakers reduced proposed increases to flood insurance rates and preserved a policy that "protects homeowners from significant rate increases when a flood map changes."

NAR President William E. Brown praised House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) and Financial Services Housing and Insurance Subcommittee Chairman Sean DuffySean Patrick DuffyStrength in Unity: A lesson on civility and cooperation from Ireland Proxy advisors do need to be regulated Fox News contributor: Black people tell me conditions in border detention centers 'are better than some of the projects' MORE (R-Wis.) for working with the group on fixes to the bill.

"The changes to the 21st Century Flood Reform Act will help give certainty to homeowners who have brought their property to code and have done their part to protect it against flood risk," Brown said: http://bit.ly/2uGleKf.

 

Oil concerns hold up Russia sanctions push: American oil and natural gas companies are pushing for changes to a massive expansion of economic sanctions on Russia, warning lawmakers that the new regulations would harm them, too.

House leaders are negotiating several fixes to a bill expanding economic penalties on Russia and Iran, which includes new limits on the extent to which American and Russian oil and gas companies can interact.

The White House has asked for several changes to the bill that would limit Congress's ability to re-impose Russian sanctions if they're lifted by the administration. Lawmakers have mostly rejected that request, and Democrats have cited it to raise concerns about President Trump's potential connections to Russia.

But American energy companies say the expanded sanctions were rushed through the Senate without enough vetting and could prevent United States oil and gas companies from drilling near Russian companies, even if they're not working together. Devin Henry and I explain: http://bit.ly/2uGpf1m.

 

Senate panel advances Trump's tax policy nominee: The Senate Finance Committee on Thursday advanced President Trump's nominee for a key tax policy position.

The panel unanimously voted to send David Kautter's nomination to be assistant secretary of the Treasury for tax policy to the full Senate.

If confirmed to the position, which oversees tax matters for the Treasury Department, Kautter is likely to play an important role in the administration's efforts to overhaul the tax code.

"Treasury has an outstanding team of many of the most talented tax professionals in the world. Working together with you and your staffs, I believe we can get tax reform over the finish line," Kautter told senators at his nomination hearing earlier this week. "If confirmed, it would be an honor to strive to do so." Naomi Jagoda tells us about Kautter: http://bit.ly/2uGlB7B.

 

Senate panel rejects Trump funding cuts on energy programs: The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a $38.4 billion spending bill for the Department of Energy and water programs.

The 30-1 vote rejected numerous proposals by President Trump that would have slashed programs that have bipartisan support. The $38.4 billion total passed by the committee is $4 billion more than Trump's budget proposal.

The bill would fund the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy at $330 million, a record high funding level for an agency that Trump had proposed eliminating completely.

It also would fund the Energy Department's energy efficiency and renewable energy programs at $1.94 billion — $1.2 billion above Trump's budget proposal. Here's more from The Hill's Timothy Cama: http://bit.ly/2uGzliT.

 

Mueller reportedly will examine Trump businesses as part of Russia probe: Special counsel Robert Mueller is looking into President Trump's business transactions as part of the ongoing probe into alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russians who sought to influence the 2016 election, according to a Thursday report in Bloomberg.

The news comes a day after Trump told The New York Times that Mueller would cross a line if he expanded the probe to his business ties.

Mueller is the special counsel appointed by the Justice Department to investigate Russian election meddling and alleged collusion by members of the Trump campaign.

Bloomberg reports the counsel is probing purchases from Russian buyers at Trump properties, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, a SoHo development involving Russian associates and Trump's 2008 sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch.

"Those transactions are in my view well beyond the mandate of the special counsel," Trump's lawyer John Dowd said in a statement to Bloomberg. The Hill's Julia Manchester has more here: http://bit.ly/2ttlEV2

 

GOP senators offer bill to weaken labor board's power: Republican Senator Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway Lee2020 hopefuls skeptical of criminal justice deal with Trump Sentencing reform deal heats up, pitting Trump against reliable allies Senate gets to work in August — but many don’t show up MORE (Utah) wants to strip the nation's labor board of its authority to hear labor disputes and issue rules.

Lee introduced the Protecting American Jobs Act on Thursday to transfer the power of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to hear labor disputes to federal courts.

"For far too long the NLRB has acted as judge, jury, and executioner, for labor disputes in this country," Lee said in a statement.

"The havoc they have wrought by upsetting decades of established labor law has cost countless jobs. This common-sense legislation would finally restore fairness and accountability to our nation's labor laws."

The bill, co-sponsored by Sens. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzHillicon Valley: Trump goes after Twitter, Facebook | House Dems call for Sinclair probe | Apple removes China gambling apps | Cryptocurrencies form self-regulatory group Trump: It's 'dangerous' when Facebook and Twitter self-regulate content Sharpton misspells 'respect' while quoting Aretha Franklin to Trump MORE (R-Texas), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump showcases ICE ahead of midterm elections Sentencing reform deal heats up, pitting Trump against reliable allies The Hill's Morning Report: Dems have a majority in the Senate (this week) MORE (R-Ark.), Luther Strange (R-Ala.) and Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioGOP lawmakers raise concerns over research grants to colleges with Confucius Institutes Paid family leave could give new parents a much-needed lifeline GOP looks to injure Nelson over Russia comments MORE (R-Fla.), also strips the board of its rulemaking power.

The Hill's Lydia Wheeler has more here: http://bit.ly/2gOy5ow

 

House to consider GI expansion bill next week: The House is expected to vote on bipartisan legislation next week to remove time restrictions for veterans using their GI benefits to pay for school tuition.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) announced Thursday that the bill, which is expected to pass easily, will be on the floor in the days before the chamber is scheduled to leave for the monthlong August recess.

The measure, known as the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 or "Forever GI bill," is moving to the floor swiftly after the House Veterans' Affairs Committee advanced it earlier this week.

"This bipartisan legislation will remove the 15-year gap for benefits that forces veterans to 'use it or lose it,' while enabling vets to take advantage of innovative new models like nanodegrees and massive open online courses," McCarthy said: http://bit.ly/2uGnYY8.

 

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