Overnight Finance: Trump pitches tax reform as boon to truckers | Trump threatens ending NAFTA in meeting with Trudeau | GOP tax writer promises swift action | House advances $36.5B in disaster funding without offsets | Biz giants push Supreme Court on LG

Overnight Finance: Trump pitches tax reform as boon to truckers | Trump threatens ending NAFTA in meeting with Trudeau | GOP tax writer promises swift action | House advances $36.5B in disaster funding without offsets | Biz giants push Supreme Court on LG
© Getty Images

Trump sells tax reform with trucker backdrop in Pennsylvania: MIDDLETOWN, Pa. -- President Trump said Wednesday his tax proposal will be a boon for the trucking industry, the type of working-class constituency he won over during last year's presidential election.

"When your trucks are moving, America is growing," Trump told a crowd of truckers inside an aircraft hangar near the Pennsylvania capital of Harrisburg.

He said his "huge" tax plan would help "remove barriers that slow you down."

The president spoke in front of a giant semi truck with a trailer that said "Win Again: Lower Taxes, Bigger Paychecks, More Jobs."

Trump's speech is an attempt to breathe new life into his push to overhaul the tax code at a time when his administration has been consumed by culture wars, personal feuds and criticism over his response to the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico.

The future of the tax plan faces fresh doubts, just two weeks after the White House and congressional Republicans released a framework outlining their tax priorities.

Jordan Fabian and Naomi Jagoda with the story: http://bit.ly/2ydOub7


Trump threatens terminating NAFTA in meeting with Trudeau: President Trump stressed the possibility that the United States may terminate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) even as trade negotiators kick off the next round of talks.

Trump gave the chances that the United States, Canada and Mexico could reach a deal on updating the 23-year-old NAFTA pact even odds during an Oval Office meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday.

"It's possible we won't be able to make a deal and it's possible that we will," Trump told reporters at the White House. "But we'll see if we can do the kind of changes we need," he said.


"We have to protect our workers and, in all fairness, the prime minister wants to protect Canada and his people also."

When asked by a reporter if the deal is dead, Trump said "we'll see what happens. We have a tough negotiation and it's something that you will know in the not so distant future." The Hill's Vicki Needham reports: http://bit.ly/2i578he.


Top Republican predicts Christmas Eve vote on tax revamp: A top House Republican on Wednesday predicted Congress would vote to pass a tax bill on Dec. 24, saying the effort to overhaul the tax code would go down to the wire.

Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), the House GOP chief deputy whip, said he expected both the House and Senate to finish work on a tax revamp bill on Christmas Eve.

GOP lawmakers and administration officials have pledged to enact a bill to cut individual and business tax rates, broaden the tax base and make the tax code simpler by the end of 2017.

Republicans are eager to make the most sweeping changes to the tax code since 1986 and are desperate to prove their ability to pass major legislation with unified control of the government.

McHenry pressed the need for tax reform at an event organized by Financial Services Roundtable, a leading lobbying group for the financial services industry. The deputy whip asked the audience of Washington policy leaders and lobbyists to judge the Republican tax package by its total effect, not whether it includes a certain deduction or rider.

"Don't let individual provisions drive your activism," McHenry said, calling tax cuts "a powerful element" that could boost economic growth. http://bit.ly/2i3uJit.


But one GOP tax writer is promising swift movement on the bill: A top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee said Wednesday lawmakers will move quickly on a tax-reform bill once Congress adopts a budget resolution.

"The committee will move with dispatch at that point," Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) said at an event hosted by The Hill.

"I think you can move right to a markup" of that bill, he said, adding that "everybody knows these basic concepts."

Roskam is the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee's tax-policy subcommittee.

The House passed its budget resolution last week, with the Senate is expected to take up its own version next week. After that, the two chambers will need to come to an agreement to merge their blueprints. The Senate version allows for $1.5 trillion in tax cuts over 10 years. http://bit.ly/2i4zuYS.


Happy Wednesday and welcome back 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 advances $36.5 billion disaster funding without offsets: The House Appropriations Committee late Tuesday night advanced a $36.5 billion supplemental funding bill for disaster relief, but did not include any spending offsets, a demand of some key Republicans.

"This is an incredibly frustrating place," said Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C), the head of the conservative Republican Study Committee group. Walker had demanded spending cuts to offset the new disaster spending and said he was unsure if he would vote for the package.

The bill, which adheres to the White House funding request, includes $18.7 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Disaster Relief Fund and $16 billion for debt relief for the National Flood Insurance Program.

It also includes $576.5 million for wildfire efforts, even as flames continue to blaze in an increasingly damaging event in California. As of last Friday, before the fires spread dramatically, the California wildfires were estimated to have caused $2 billion in damage.

"This event may end up as one of the costliest wildfire events since our analysis began in 1980," said Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithIt’s a mistake to associate the Western canon with strictly conservative principles House easily passes 7B annual defense policy bill Overnight Defense: Trump tells veterans he will 'stand up for America' | McConnell, Ryan say Putin not welcome on Capitol Hill | Mattis tries to explain Trump's Iran tweet MORE, a researcher at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The Hill's Cristina Marcos reports: http://bit.ly/2i4EKvO.


Key conservative Republican eyes bigger tax break for charity: The leader of the biggest group of House conservatives is quietly pushing to expand the number of people who can claim a tax break for charitable giving in the GOP tax-reform legislation, expected to be released within weeks.

Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.), the chairman of the Republican Study Committee, introduced a bill late last week without fanfare to create a new deduction for charitable contributions for those who don't itemize. His office predicts it will likely be merged within the tax bill that Republicans are counting on to deliver their first big legislative victory this year.

"We believe that this is a great piece of legislation because it specifically targets who we need to target with the low and middle income taxpayers," Walker told The Hill on Tuesday.

The bill is a personal initiative of Walker's, not the RSC, but the congressman's role in leading the conservative caucus gives him a platform to promote the issue. http://bit.ly/2i39AVt.


Trump officials feud with IMF: The Trump administration feuded with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Wednesday after the global lender threw cold water on Republican efforts to spur economic growth through tax cuts.

IMF said it no longer expected the United States to boost its economy through fiscal policy changes and pushed back on the GOP's argument that cutting taxes would expand the economy.

The lender revised down its forecast for U.S. economic growth from 2.3 percent to 2.1 percent from July and called on countries with significant debt to raise taxes to protect their financial stability.

Trump administration officials fired back at the IMF, arguing the lender had a vested interest in preventing the U.S. from revamping its fiscal policy.

"There are folks that are invested in seeing this fail because if it works then what is their argument for re-regulating?" White House budget director Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyPoll: Majority of likely voters support consumer bureau mission Top Republicans concerned over impact of potential Trump drug rule Vulnerable Dems side with Warren in battle over consumer bureau MORE told the Financial Times.

"By the same token, if lowering tax does actually lead to growth, what is their argument going to be for raising taxes in the future?" he asked. http://bit.ly/2i4PjyU.


Cruz, Sanders to debate Trump's tax plan: Sens. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzCruz challenger O'Rourke launching .27M TV ad buy focusing on 'positive' message Neo-Nazis hope to leverage Alex Jones controversies one year after Charlottesville violence Texas brewery makes 'Beto Beer' for Democratic Senate candidate MORE (R-Texas) and Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersOvernight Health Care: States fight Trump on non-ObamaCare plans | Analysis looks into surprise medical bills | Left hits industry group working against single payer Overnight Energy: Trump Cabinet officials head west | Zinke says California fires are not 'a debate about climate change' | Perry tours North Dakota coal mine | EPA chief meets industry leaders in Iowa to discuss ethanol mandate Sen. Sanders blasts Zinke: Wildfires 'have everything to do with climate change' MORE (I-Vt.) are scheduled to go head-to-head in a televised town hall next week to debate whether President Trump's proposed tax reform plan will be good or bad for the country.

Cruz and Sanders, who both ran for president in 2016, argue how best to tackle the issue from largely opposite sides of the political spectrum.

"Let's simplify the tax code. Let's let everyone fill out their taxes on a postcard. We spend about 9 billion hours a year wasting time with the IRS. The world would be much, much simpler if you and I and everyone else just filled out a post card," Cruz told CNN in a September interview.

Sanders and Democrats have slammed the plan, with Sanders calling it "morally repugnant and bad economic policy" that would exacerbate income inequality. http://bit.ly/2i6K9ST.


Koch-backed group launches new ad campaign on tax reform: A conservative group backed by the Koch brothers has launched a new ad campaign targeting organizations working on behalf of special interests they say are threatening tax reform. 

Freedom Partners, a group partially funded by Koch Industries that shares many of its executive board members, will broadcast the ad in Washington. The ad calls on Congress to create a "simpler, fairer tax system that helps ordinary Americans."

The ad targets politicians and businesses that are "promoting corporate welfare" and "protecting their special tax advantages," calling attention to the lobbyists actively working in Washington to protect tax sheltering from the upcoming GOP-led tax reform push. http://bit.ly/2i5h7mI.


Business giants urge Supreme Court to take up LGBT discrimination: A coalition of 76 businesses and organizations is pushing the Supreme Court to rule once and for all that protections against sex discrimination in the workplace extend to LGBT people.

In a friend of the court brief, major companies including Facebook, Google, Starbucks, CBS Corp. and Lyft urged the court to hear the case of Jameka Evans, who is challenging a lower court ruling that sexual orientation is not a form of sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Lambda Legal filed the appeal. 

Evans claims her former employer, Georgia Regional Hospital, violated her rights when it forced her out of her job as a security guard. She says she was discriminated against because of her sexual orientation and her nonconformity to gender norms of appearance and demeanor.

In the amicus brief filed on Tuesday, the businesses wrote, "no one should be passed over for a job, paid less, fired, or subject to harassment or any other form of discrimination based on nothing more than their sexual orientation, which is inherently sex-based." http://bit.ly/2i5MNs4.


Op-Ed from The Hill's Contributors: "New NAFTA must protect American innovation and creativity -- not punish it," By Bob Barchiesi, James C. Greenwood, Charles H. Rivkin, Cary Sherman and Stephen J. Ubl.


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