Week ahead: Lawmakers eye vote to fund government into March

Week ahead: Lawmakers eye vote to fund government into March
© Greg Nash

Lawmakers are expected to vote in the coming week on another short-term spending bill to extend government funding into March with Republicans and Democrats deeply divided on a broader deal.

House lawmakers will likely consider legislation to keep the government open through about March 23, according to two sources familiar with the situation, though the plan has not been finalized.

The thinking is that a six-week funding patch would give lawmakers enough time to reach a deal on immigration, which would then unlock a deal on budget caps needed to write a massive omnibus spending bill for the rest of the fiscal year.

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Congress may end up voting on the spending measure as early as Tuesday because of a House Democratic retreat planned for next Wednesday.

"What I've heard is later March, sometime around the 23rd, so enough time to hopefully come to a deal to actually get an omnibus," one GOP lawmaker told The Hill. "I think they want to give themselves some breathing room, but no final decisions have been made."

Lawmakers are also approaching another deadline to raise the debt ceiling. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) on Wednesday said the Treasury Department will most likely run out of cash in the first half of March if Congress doesn't raise or suspend the debt limit before then.

Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinBen Carson: Trump is not a racist and his comments were not racist The Hill's Morning Report - A raucous debate on race ends with Trump admonishment White House, Congress inch toward debt, budget deal MORE asked Congress to lift the debt ceiling as soon as possible, but definitely before March 1. Congress had suspended the debt limit though Dec. 8, but the ceiling was reinstated after that. Since the debt limit has been reinstated, the Treasury Department has been using "extraordinary measures" that allow it to continue to borrow funds for a short period of time.

Mnuchin told the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday that he, Trump and Vice President Pence are interested in changing the way the federal government controls its debt. Mnuchin has called the debt ceiling deadline "ridiculous," and has previously showed interest in reshaping it.

Mnuchin will likely be pressed on the debt ceiling and several other issues when he testifies before the House Financial Services Committee on Tuesday. Democrats will likely dig in on the Trump administration's decision not to ramp up sanctions on Russia immediately, as well as on GOP efforts to reign in the Dodd-Frank Act.

The Treasury Department warned Congress that ramping up financial sanctions on Russia could restrain the country's economy and force action against the United States, according to a memo reported on by Bloomberg.

The department wrote that increasing restrictions on financial trades involving Russian debt would lead to "Russian retaliation against U.S interests."

"Expanding [U.S. sanctions] to include dealings in new Russian sovereign debt and the full range of related derivatives would likely raise borrowing costs for Russia," department staff wrote, according to the memo.

The Treasury Department warned that further sanctions on new debt would "put downward pressure on Russian economic growth; destabilize financial markets," and "increase strain on Russia's banking sector."

Lawmakers will also home in on regulating cryptocurrencies like bitcoin when the chairmen of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) appear before the Senate Banking Committee.

SEC Chairman Jay Clayton and CFTC Chairman J. Christopher Giancarlo will testify Tuesday on their increasing efforts to police fraud in cryptocurrency sales and investments.

 

Your week ahead:

Tuesday:

  • House Financial Services Committee: Hearing on the Financial Stability Oversight Council's annual report with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, 10 a.m. http://bit.ly/2GHbJhl.
  • Senate Banking Committee: Hearing on SEC and CFTC oversight of digital currency with SEC Chairman Jay Clayton and CFTC Chairman J. Christopher Giancarlo, 10 a.m. http://bit.ly/2DYdBoB.

 

Recap the week with Overnight Finance:

  • Monday: House Appropriations chair to retire | Exit sets off fight for gavel | GOP banks on tax cuts to help in midterms | Crypto exchange under scrutiny after theft | Conservatives push Trump on capital gains taxes
  • Tuesday: Mnuchin promises new Russia sanctions after uproar | Dow drops ahead of Trump State of the Union | GOP senators call on Trump to protect NAFTA | Regulators subpoena major bitcoin exchange
  • Wednesday: Trump touts trade agenda in State of the Union address | Consumer Bureau ruled constitutional | Fed leaves rates unchanged
  • Thursday: GOP eyes vote to fund government through March 23 | How much credit should Trump get for economy? | Dems vow to repeal parts of GOP tax law | Mulvaney shakes up office policing racism in lending

 

Today's stories:

 

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