Overnight Finance: Freedom Caucus chair courts Dems on tax reform | House passes $36.5B disaster relief package | House GOP worries about budget's fate in Senate

Overnight Finance: Freedom Caucus chair courts Dems on tax reform | House passes $36.5B disaster relief package | House GOP worries about budget's fate in Senate

Freedom Caucus chair courts Dems on tax reform: Rep. Mark Meadows, the conservative hard-liner and chairman of the far-right House Freedom Caucus, is playing an unlikely role in the push for tax reform: liaison to Democrats.

In a bid to help shape and build support for the tax package, the North Carolina Republican has been reaching across the aisle to a handful of moderate Democrats, he told The Hill in an interview. The outreach includes Rep. John DelaneyJohn Kevin DelaneyDem rep: Dysfunctional Congress has elevated the Supreme Court Rep. John Delaney talks about his early 2020 presidential filing Millionaire businessman wins Dem House primary in Md. MORE (Md.), who has said he's running for president in 2020, and Rep. John GaramendiJohn Raymond GaramendiOvernight Defense: VA pick breezes through confirmation hearing | House votes to move on defense bill negotiations | Senate bill would set 'stringent' oversight on North Korea talks Overnight Defense: Latest on scrapped Korea summit | North Korea still open to talks | Pentagon says no change in military posture | House passes 6B defense bill | Senate version advances House easily passes 7B defense authorization bill MORE, the former California insurance commissioner and lieutenant governor.

Meadows's top ally, former Freedom Caucus chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), has taken part in many of those informal, bipartisan discussions.


A number of skeptical, moderate Republicans could peel off from the GOP tax-reform bill, so Meadows and Jordan are looking to make up for those losses with Democratic votes.

"Jim Jordan and I believe that tax reform is a critical component that we must deliver on and that it doesn't necessarily follow along a Republican or conservative line as much as it follows along a line that supports all the hard-working American taxpayers across the country," Meadows told The Hill in an interview.

The Hill's Scott Wong and Alexander Bolton have more: http://bit.ly/2gAlwuk


House passes $36.5 billion disaster relief package: The House easily passed legislation on Thursday to provide $36.5 billion in aid for communities affected by recent hurricanes and wildfires, despite concerns from some conservatives about the growing cost of disaster aid.

All of the votes in opposition were from Republicans in the 353-69 vote.

The package includes $18.7 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) disaster relief fund -- including $4.9 billion for a disaster relief loan account -- $16 billion to address national flood insurance program debt and $576.5 million for wildfire recovery efforts. It also provided $1.27 billion for disaster food assistance for Puerto Rico.

The bill advanced as wildfires that are expected to become the costliest in California history continue to rage in the state's wine country. More than 80 percent of Puerto Rico also remains without power in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria while major cities in Texas, Florida and other gulf states continue rebuilding efforts following Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Congress is likely to approve billions of dollars in additional disaster aid in the months to come.

The Hill's Niv Elis and Cristina Marcos with the story: http://bit.ly/2yHl7Bc


69 Republicans voted against disaster aid: The 69 votes in opposition included many members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, who believe government spending should not add to the deficit.

Freedom Caucus leaders like Chairman Mark Meadows (N.C.), Justin AmashJustin AmashWatchdog: First lady spokeswoman may have violated Hatch Act with ‘MAGA’ tweet GOP Rep. Amash slams Kavanaugh on government surveillance rulings House Freedom Caucus roiled by Trump's attacks on Mark Sanford MORE (Mich.) and Jim Jordan (Ohio), voted against the aid package.

Rep. Mark Walker (N.C.), who leads the Republican Study Committee, also voted against the legislation due to the lack of offsets.

The majority of the House GOP conference did vote for the legislation, including every member of the Florida delegation whose state was ravaged by Hurricane Irma last month.

But six Texas Republicans voted against the bill: Reps. Joe BartonJoe Linus BartonLatina Leaders to Watch 2018 Unending Pruitt controversies leave Republicans frustrated Hillicon Valley: Judge rules Trump can't block Twitter users | ISIS content finds a home on Google Plus | Rubio rips ZTE demands as 'terrible deal' | Bill would protect kids' data MORE, Louie GohmertLouis (Louie) Buller GohmertHouse GOP questions FBI lawyer for second day Ex-GOP lawmaker: Strzok hearing 'was a humiliating day' for Republicans Peter Strzok exhibited an astonishing lack of self-awareness MORE, Jeb Hensarling, Kenny Marchant, John Ratcliffe and Roger WilliamsJohn (Roger) Roger WilliamsFive GOP lawmakers mulling bid to lead conservative caucus Lawmakers demand answers from Mnuchin on Trump tariffs Family connection is crucial to America's immigration system MORE.

Cristina Marcos breaks it down: http://bit.ly/2g61J5d


In House, worries about Senate GOP and budget grow: House Republicans growing increasingly frustrated with the Senate are worried their budget could hit a snag in the upper chamber, where other House-passed legislation has become stuck in quicksand or completely fallen apart.

Republicans in the Senate can only afford two defections on the budget, which would unlock a process to prevent Democrats from filibustering a GOP tax-reform bill.

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulLewandowski: Trump-Putin meeting advances goal of world peace Rand Paul to travel to Russia after downplaying election meddling Implementation of a 'universal basic income' program would be a disaster MORE (R-Ky.) has said he plans to vote against the budget, while Sen. Thad CochranWilliam (Thad) Thad CochranTodd Young in talks about chairing Senate GOP campaign arm US farming cannot afford to continue to fall behind Mississippi Democrat drops Senate bid MORE (R-Miss.) has been dealing with health issues.

"When you have a very slim majority, three or four senators over on that side control the destiny of tax reform, and in many cases that's just unacceptable for the American people," said Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Ohio), a member of the House Budget Committee.

"We're hoping that the Senate now does their job and gets the budget passed as well," he said.

Niv Elis has the details: http://bit.ly/2wRi2tI


Happy Thursday and welcome back to Overnight Finance. I'm Vicki Needham coming in from the bullpen to provide relief for our trusty Sylvan Lane. Here we go with the news on another busy day in Washington and around the world. 


GOP senator disputes Trump tax cut claim: Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleySenate GOP poised to break record on Trump's court picks This week: GOP mulls vote on ‘abolish ICE’ legislation Kavanaugh paper chase heats up MORE (R-Iowa) on Thursday disputed President Trump's claim that his proposed tax cuts would be the largest in U.S. history but nonetheless offered support for the president's reform plan.

Trump has repeatedly talked up the size of proposed corporate and income tax cuts. In a speech to the National Association of Manufacturers last month, he said it would be a "giant, beautiful, massive, the biggest ever in our country, tax cut."

But Grassley, a member and former chairman of the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee, took issue with that claim in a series of tweets. Grassley listed the size of tax cuts passed during the George W. Bush administration and then provided estimates of what the size of those cuts are adjusted for inflation. 

It's unclear exactly how much of a net tax cut will be included in legislation. The Senate Budget Committee approved a measure that would allow up to $1.5 trillion in tax cuts, but Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerGOP lambasts Trump over performance in Helsinki Flake to introduce resolution countering Trump's Russia summit rhetoric Corker: Trump made US look 'like a pushover' MORE (R-Tenn.) has said he won't vote for any tax bill that adds to the deficit. The text of a tax bill won't be released until after the House and Senate agree on a budget resolution.

The Hill's Naomi Jagoda has the story: http://bit.ly/2xBk3hV


Ryan: Lawmakers could stay in Washington for Christmas to pass tax bill: Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanGOP lambasts Trump over performance in Helsinki Trump stuns the world at Putin summit Former Trump aide says he canceled CNN appearance over 'atrocious' Helsinki coverage MORE (R-Wis.) said Thursday that he'd keep lawmakers in Washington at Christmas time to vote on a tax bill if necessary.

"I mean, I don't care. We got to get this done," the Speaker said at the Heritage Foundation. 

Ryan said that Congress is "on track" to get a tax-reform bill enacted by the end of the year. He noted that the House passed its budget resolution with tax-reform instructions last week, and the Senate plans to advance its measure next week.

The Speaker predicted that the House will send a tax bill to the Senate in November. "That gives us time to get this thing done in law," he said.

Ryan said that if a new tax system is in place at the beginning of 2018, he thinks the U.S. could grow by at least 3 percent next year. The Trump administration has also been calling for tax reform to boost growth to 3 percent.

Naomi Jagoda has the details: http://bit.ly/2gzhiTM


Business groups sound alarm on Trump trade policies: Business groups are raising alarms about the Trump administration's proposals to update the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as the fourth round of talks started on Wednesday.

The feud between powerful business groups and the White House ramped up with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable among others taking their case to Capitol Hill. The groups are concerned that President Trump's threats to withdraw from the 23-year-old pact combined with a handful of controversial proposals could torpedo the deal.

"The companies represented at the Business Roundtable are very concerned with reports that the Trump administration will weaken NAFTA with drastic changes that would disrupt supply chains that have greatly benefited U.S. businesses, workers and consumers over the last two decades," Josh Bolten, BRT's president and CEO of the group, wrote in a blog post. 

"Even worse, withdrawal from NAFTA would put at stake millions of American jobs in every sector of the U.S. economy, the competitiveness of U.S.-produced goods and services, and our country's standing as a global economic leader," he added.

I have the story here: http://bit.ly/2wS0Zrg


Breitbart criticizes Trump tax plan: Right-wing site Breitbart News attacked President Trump's tax plan on Thursday, arguing that it wouldn't help the people he says it would.

In an article Thursday morning, the news site chaired by former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon ripped the GOP's framework for tax reform and argued that Trump pitched the plan to truck drivers "who may see little or no direct benefit" on Wednesday night.

"There's very little in the framework, moreover, that would directly benefit most truckers," Breitbart's John Carney wrote, saying that Trump's plan would raise taxes for a family making the median income for truck drivers by about $200 a year.

Trump sold his tax reform plan in Pennsylvania in front of a crowd of truck drivers, telling his audience the plan would be "rocket fuel" for America's economy.

"It will be rocket fuel for the economy," Trump said Wednesday. "You're going to make more money. You're going to do better than ever before. And we truly admire you. You are our heroes, believe me," he added. "You are our heroes."

The Hill's John Bowden has the details: http://bit.ly/2g6Yqux


Ryan urges conservatives to take on critics of GOP tax plan: Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is urging conservatives to push back against criticism of the GOP's tax plan as he seeks to build momentum for his top legislative priority.

"I say: Let's have this debate. Let's tackle these baseless arguments head on," Ryan said in prepared remarks for a speech Thursday at the Heritage Foundation, a prominent conservative think tank.

The White House and congressional GOP leaders released a tax-reform framework in late September that is designed to serve as a starting point for legislation. The plan would collapse the number of individual tax rates, slash rates for businesses and eliminate the estate tax and the alternative minimum tax.

Outside conservative groups have been rallying around the framework -- in contrast to the lack of unified support that conservatives gave to the GOP's bills to repeal and replace ObamaCare earlier this year. Right-leaning organizations have praised Republican lawmakers' plans in letters as well as in advertisements.

But the plan has already faced pushback from Democrats, who argue that it would drastically increase the deficit and mostly benefit the wealthy taxpayers at the expense of everyone else. Some lobbyists have also started to fight to preserve tax preferences that appear to be on the chopping block.

Naomi Jagoda reports: http://bit.ly/2z4srCG


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