Overnight Finance: Senators introduce bill to curb Trump's tariff authority | McConnell calls it 'exercise in futility' | Kudlow warns WTO won't dictate policy | Mulvaney feud with consumer advocates deepens

Overnight Finance: Senators introduce bill to curb Trump's tariff authority | McConnell calls it 'exercise in futility' | Kudlow warns WTO won't dictate policy | Mulvaney feud with consumer advocates deepens
© Greg Nash

Happy Wednesday and welcome back to Overnight Finance, which, like Canada, has never burned down the White House. I'm Sylvan Lane, and here's your nightly guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line.

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THE BIG DEAL: Senators are moving forward with legislation that would curb President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says he doesn't want to use 'adversary' to describe Russia Comey urges Americans to vote for Democrats in midterms Roby wins Alabama GOP runoff, overcoming blowback from Trump criticism MORE's authority on tariffs, despite opposition from the White House.

The bill would require Trump to submit tariffs implemented under Section 232 of the trade law for approval to Congress. Any approval legislation would then be fast-tracked through both chambers.

"If the president truly believes invoking Section 232 is necessary to protect the United States from a genuine threat, he should make the case to Congress and to the American people and do the hard work necessary to secure congressional approval," Corker said in a statement announcing the bill.


In addition to Corker, Sens. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampSenate Dems build huge cash edge in battlegrounds Bipartisan group introduces retirement savings legislation in Senate Fed chief lays out risks of trade war MORE (D-N.D.), Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyOvernight Defense: Pick for South Korean envoy splits with Trump on nuclear threat | McCain blasts move to suspend Korean military exercises | White House defends Trump salute of North Korean general WH backpedals on Trump's 'due process' remark on guns Top GOP candidate drops out of Ohio Senate race MORE (R-Pa.), Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerSenate Dems press for info on any deals from Trump-Putin meeting Overnight Defense: Trump tries to quell Russia furor | GOP looks to reassure NATO | Mattis open to meeting Russian counterpart Hillicon Valley: Trump tries to quell Russia furor | Sparks fly at hearing on social media | First House Republican backs net neutrality bill | Meet the DNC's cyber guru | Sinclair defiant after merger setback MORE (D-Va.), Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderSens introduce bipartisan bill matching Zinke proposed maintenance backlog fix Supreme Court vacancy throws Senate battle into chaos Overnight Health Care: Anti-abortion groups see chance to overturn Roe v. Wade with Kennedy retirement | HHS watchdog to probe detention center conditions | VA pick vows to oppose privatization MORE (R-Tenn.), Brian SchatzBrian Emanuel SchatzDems rip Trump DOJ nominee who represented Russian bank The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by Better Medicare Alliance — Expensive and brutal: Inside the Supreme Court fight ahead Dem senator: No argument will 'lay bare' GOP's hypocrisy on Supreme Court MORE (D-Hawaii), Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonJuan Williams: Putin wins as GOP spins GOP senator: Harley-Davidson is right to move some production overseas GOP senator: Trump’s policies doing 'permanent damage' MORE (R-Wis.), Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenSenate weighs new Russia response amid Trump backlash Senate adds members to pro-NATO group Dems slam proposed changes to Endangered Species Act MORE (D-Md.), Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeWisconsin GOP Senate candidate rips his own parents for donations to Dems GOP moderates hint at smooth confirmation ahead for Kavanaugh GOP senators introduce resolution endorsing ICE MORE (R-Utah), Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeKelly lobbied Republicans to rebuke Trump after Putin press conference: report Senate weighs new Russia response amid Trump backlash Flake to Trump: 'Fake news' didn't side with Putin, you did MORE (R-Ariz.), Ben SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SasseChristine Todd Whitman: Trump should step down over Putin press conference GOP lambasts Trump over performance in Helsinki GOP senator: Senate should be 'disgusted' by Helsinki summit MORE (R-Neb.) and Johnny IsaksonJohn (Johnny) Hardy IsaksonGOP senators introduce resolution endorsing ICE Appeals court nominees languish in Senate as Flake demands tariff vote On The Money — Sponsored by Prudential — Senators hammers Ross on Trump tariffs | EU levies tariffs on US goods | Senate rejects Trump plan to claw back spending MORE (R-Ga.) are supporting the bill.

"There is no real national security threat that these tariffs are a response to. They are an effort to impose a protectionist policy for economic purposes," Toomey said in a floor speech blasting the administration's decisions.
The Hill's Jordain Carney tells us more about the bill here.


Corker rebukes Trump's personal plea: Senators are introducing the legislation despite receiving pushback from Trump, who earlier on Wednesday privately urged Corker not to file his bill.

"I talked at length with the president about it today. He's obviously not pleased with this effort," Corker separately told reporters.

Corker added that Trump's main message in the phone call, which the president initiated, was for Corker to not move forward with the proposal.

But congressional Republicans are becoming increasingly frustrated with Trump's trade policy, which they worry could roil the economy just months before a midterm election. The Hill's Alexander Bolton has more about their concerns here.


No endgame in sight: Trump cranked up long-simmering tensions late last week when he announced he'd impose steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada, Mexico and the European Union, ending an exemption for the trading allies.

A group of GOP senators are meeting with Trump on Wednesday at the White House to discuss trade. The meeting was organized by GOP Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamKelly lobbied Republicans to rebuke Trump after Putin press conference: report Senate weighs new Russia response amid Trump backlash Trump stuns the world at Putin summit MORE (S.C.).

"I think Senator Graham, who is the leader of that meeting, just wants to talk to the president about his endgame," GOP Sen. John CornynJohn CornynSenate weighs new Russia response amid Trump backlash McConnell: Russians are not our friends Russians' indictment casts shadow ahead of Trump-Putin summit MORE (Texas) told reporters, when asked about the meeting.

Notably missing from the supporters of Corker's bill are members of Senate GOP leadership.



  • "There is no real national security threat that these tariffs are a response to. They are an effort to impose a protectionist policy for economic purposes."  -- Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.).
  • "Now is not the time to undercut President Trump's ability to negotiate better trade deals. I will not support any efforts that weaken his position." -- Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)

What comes next: Senate GOP leaders have ruled out the chance of Corker's bill getting a vote on its own. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOvernight Defense: Trump tries to quell Russia furor | GOP looks to reassure NATO | Mattis open to meeting Russian counterpart Senate weighs new Russia response amid Trump backlash House passes bipartisan bill to boost business investment MORE (R-Ky.) suggested it could be added to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a sprawling defense spending bill.

Sen. James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeNew EPA chief draws sharp contrast to Pruitt Senate takes symbolic shot at Trump tariffs Senate moves to start negotiations on defense policy bill MORE (R-Okla.), who is managing the bill, said he wouldn't oppose allowing a vote on Corker's bill to be added as an amendment, but wouldn't support the amendment himself.

But Jordain tells us that the process for setting up roll call votes on amendments to the NDAA has frozen in recent years. Senators will often object to a vote on any amendment unless they can also get a vote on their own proposals.

McConnell doesn't back bill: But McConnell also said in a Wednesday radio interview that he wouldn't support Corker's bill, which he called "an exercise in futility." 

"Yeah, I don't think we need to be trying to rein in the president through legislation," McConnell said.


Takeaway: Opposition to the bill from McConnell and the White House could prove critical to squelching support for it in the Senate, where the GOP leader is well respected and many Republican senators are wary of crossing the White House months before a midterm election. 



  • House Financial Services Committee: Markup of seven bills related to disaster recovery, flood insurance and capital markets access, 11 a.m.
  • House Foreign Affairs Committee: Hearing on "Advancing U.S. Business Investment and Trade in the Americas," 2 p.m.
  • American Enterprise Institute hosts an event on the lessons learned from 10 years of quantitative easing featuring former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, 2 p.m.



The latest in the global backlash to President Trump's tariffs:

EU to impose retaliatory tariffs on US in July: The European Union (EU) is expected to place additional duties on U.S. imports starting in July in response to Trump's tariffs on EU steel and aluminum, according to Reuters.

EU members have given support for a plan that would set 25 percent duties on up to $3.3 billion worth of U.S. goods, Reuters reported.

"The Commission expects to conclude the relevant procedure in coordination with member states before the end of June so that the new duties start applying in July," Commissioner Maros Sefcovic said on Wednesday at a press conference.

According to Reuters, EU exports now subject to Trump's tariffs are worth more than $7.5 billion.

The EU plan would also impose duties between 10 and 50 percent on $4.2 billion worth of U.S. goods in March 2021, or sooner if the World Trade Organization (WTO) rules that Trump's tariffs are illegal, Reuters reported. The EU challenged the tariffs at the WTO on Friday.


Background: The WTO advanced trade complaints from the European Union and Canada against the United States on Wednesday.


Kudlow warns WTO won't determine US policy as summit nears: The president's top economic adviser on Wednesday implied that the U.S. may not abide by any rulings from the WTO, a tough signal ahead of a Group of Seven summit this weekend where Trump is expected to face a backlash from allied leaders over his protectionist trade agenda.

"International, multilateral organizations are not going to determine American policy," White House National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow told reporters at a press briefing organized to preview President Trump's trip to Canada for the G-7.

The comments paint an unyielding stance on trade as the president prepares to meet with leaders from Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy and Japan. Ahead of the summit, the WTO circulated formal complaints from Canada and the European Union against the tariffs. The Hill's Niv Elis explains here.


FINANCE IN FOCUS--Trump to face lion's den at G-7 summit: President Trump will walk into a lion's den of angry allied leaders at this week's Group of Seven summit, where he is expected to face a firestorm of criticism over his decision to hit them with steep tariffs on steel and aluminum.

Trump's decision to levy tariffs has rankled allies and created divisions in the longstanding relationships. It's creating a stark contrast from the last decade of G-7 summits, which generally have served as opportunities for the world's seven largest economies to close ranks on major political and economic issues. 

Washington's moves have brought the closely linked nations to the brink of an all-out trade war, setting the stage for a showdown in Quebec and one of the most difficult G-7 meetings for a U.S. president. The Hill's Vicki Needham and Niv Elis tell us why here.


Mulvaney deepens feud with consumer advocates after board shutdown: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) on Wednesday said it is making cuts to three key advisory boards, enraging advocates who say the agency's acting director doesn't want to engage with dissenting opinions. 
The CFPB told members of the advisory boards Wednesday that the bureau would shrink the groups and shift the agency's external outreach to town halls and roundtables across the U.S., citing cost concerns.

The CFPB told board members in a Wednesday email that the groups wouldn't meet until the bureau selects their replacements.

Members of the bureau's Consumer Advisory Board expressed the most outrage over the decision, and have feuded with Mulvaney over the CFPB's direction for months. The 25-person board represents a slew of consumer advocacy, legal aid and fair lending groups that have opposed Mulvaney's efforts to ease the CFPB's regulation of banks and lenders.

Mulvaney has sought to slash the CFPB's budget and reshape the bureau from within, aiming to streamline an agency he has insisted should not exist.

But CAB members said Mulvaney's move to reshape the board is meant to silence opponents of the bureau's new direction. I explain why here.


MARKET CHECK: From CNBC: "Stocks rose on Wednesday as bank shares rallied on higher interest rates, while Boeing rose.

"The Dow Jones industrial average closed 346.41 points higher at 25,146.39 with Boeing rising 3.2 percent and contributing the most to the gains. J.P Morgan and Goldman Sachs were also among the biggest contributors of gains. The Dow also closed above 25,000 for the first time since mid-March.

"The S&P 500 gained 0.9 percent to finish at 2,772.35 as financials rose 1.9 percent. The benchmark 10-year Treasury note yield rose to 2.98 percent on Wednesday, following yields in Europe after the European Central Bank hinted at winding down its asset-purchasing program."




  • Huawei, which the U.S. had flagged as a national security threat, was one of at least four companies that Facebook had data-sharing partnerships with, The New York Times reported.