OVERNIGHT FINANCE: House votes to extend tax breaks

TOMORROW STARTS TONIGHT: HOUSE RENEWS TAX BREAKS FOR ONE YEAR. From The Hill’s Bernie Becker and Cristina Marcos: “The House on Wednesday passed a one-year renewal of more than 50 tax breaks that expired at the end of 2013. Passed 378-46, the measure would extend nearly all of the tax breaks until just the end of this year, at a cost of almost $42 billion. The dissenting votes were close to evenly split between Democrats and Republicans. ...


“The list of incentives extended by the House included popular credits for both corporate America and individuals, like incentives for business research and others that help school teachers and distressed homeowners. Other incentives in the package are more controversial, particularly a tax credit prized by the wind industry.” Story: http://bit.ly/11W2mFb.

THIS IS OVERNIGHT FINANCE. Happy hump day. Chin up, it could be worse – you could be RGIII’s agent. Tweet: @kevcirilli; email: kcirilli@thehill.com; and subscribe: http://thehill.com/signup/48.

EXTENDERS WATCH: SENATE NEXT? Bernie Becker and Pete Schroeder for The Hill: “A top Senate Democrat suggested Wednesday that the chamber would likely have to accept a House plan to restore dozens of expired tax breaks only through the end of this year. ... Senate Finance Chairman Ron Wyden (Ore.) and other Democratic tax writers have been pushing for an agreement that would last until the end of 2015.

“But Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told reporters: ‘I don’t think there’s any deal in the offing at this point.’ The House’s one-year plan came together after President Obama last week threatened to veto an emerging $400 billion agreement between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) that would have indefinitely extended some of the tax breaks.

— THE BOTTOM LINE, via Becker and Schoreder: “Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle and supporters of the tax breaks have generally said extending the incentives for just this year is the worst possible deal but better than no agreement at all. More than 50 preferences in all expired at the end of 2013.” Story: http://bit.ly/1rYgrsx.

CRUZ IN CONTROL? The architect of the first government shutdown breaks his silence on the “cromnibus” saga. Rebecca Shabad reports for The Hill:

“Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzGOP chairwoman suggests RNC plans to get 'litigious' over push for national popular vote The Hill's Campaign Report: Sanders top target at CPAC Bloomberg campaign manager says they have considered naming running mate during primaries MORE (R-Texas) stood outside the Capitol with House conservatives on Wednesday and urged the GOP to not provide funding for President Obama's executive orders on immigration. Cruz told reporters at a press conference that he would support a short-term spending bill, known as a continuing resolution (CR), that includes a rider that defunds Obama's immigration action.

“While the House Appropriations Committee contends that would be impossible, Cruz says riders have been attached to funding bills ‘hundreds,’ even ‘thousands of times.’ Congress should ‘stand up’ and say ‘we will not allocate taxpayer dollars to lawless and illegal amnesty,’ Cruz said at the press conference.” http://bit.ly/1tFTDOM.

TERROR INSURANCE WATCH: MCCARTHY ENTERS TALKS. The latest in wonk world via me: “House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is entering talks on reauthorizing a federal program providing an insurance backstop in the case of a terrorist attack [TRIA]. McCarthy met with House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb HensarlingThomas (Jeb) Jeb HensarlingLawmakers battle over future of Ex-Im Bank House passes Ex-Im Bank reboot bill opposed by White House, McConnell Has Congress lost the ability or the will to pass a unanimous bipartisan small business bill? MORE (R-Texas) and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who have been unable to work out a deal.

“TRIA will expire at the end of the year if it is not renewed. Hensarling indicated to members of his panel on Wednesday that he was at an impasse with Schumer. The chairman has argued for reforms to the TRIA program, which he has noted was initiated after the September 11, 2001, attacks and was supposed to be temporary... TRIA allows for the federal government to front the costs for businesses following a massive terror attack in which the damages exceed $100 million. Hensarling and Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas) want to increase the $100 million threshold — or the so-called ‘trigger point’ — to $500 million but, according to sources familiar with the negotiations, are open to lowering that trigger to $400 million.”

— SENIOR DEMOCRATIC AIDE after the Hensarling, Schumer and McCarthy meeting: “I would say we’re making progress.” My story: http://bit.ly/1yQWGJn.

— MARTIN DEPOY, steering committee director for the “Coalition to Insure Against Terrorism,” which represents about 80 top banking, business and tourism groups: “We’re heartened at the movements [Hensarling] has made to the Senate bill. We think he’s come a long way... They’re relatively close to an agreement.”

HAPPENING TOMORROW: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Financial Services Committee ranking member Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) will hold a press conference urging TRIA reauthorization tomorrow at 1pm. 

2016 WATCH: HILLARY AND OBAMA MEET AT WHITE HOUSE. Justin Sink: "President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWatch live: Trump holds a rally in South Carolina On the ground at CPAC: Republicans see Sanders as formidable foe Home state candidates risk losing primaries MORE met together for about an hour Wednesday at the White House, in a gathering certain to intensify speculation the former first lady is readying a presidential campaign." http://bit.ly/1wtUhFb

2016 WATCH: WARREN GETS A SLOGAN. Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenMSNBC's Chris Matthews confuses South Carolina Democratic Senate candidate with GOP's Tim Scott Trump surveys South Carolina supporters on preferred Democratic opponent Watch live: Trump holds a rally in South Carolina MORE (D-Mass.) has a slogan: "The best senator money can't buy." Those are the words plastered across a new T-shirt that is now for sale on the senator’s campaign website. More via me: http://bit.ly/12nTN5Y.  

WHY TRIA DEAL COULD BE A NIGHTMARE FOR WARREN: Hensarling is arguing the Senate TRIA bill violates House funding rules because it would increase spending without making government cuts. (Also worth noting: Hensarling and House Republicans have voted to waive the rule, dubbed “cut-go”, numerous times.)

Hensarling proposed to Schumer that they make-up the increased TRIA costs by shifting the funding source for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) from the Federal Reserve to Congress. Democrats say that’s a non-starter because they fear that a Republican-controlled Congress would diminish the agency, which was created after the 2008 economic collapse. Elizabeth Warren helped establish the agency before she was elected to office. Republicans say the CFPB is a “rogue regulator” that acts without Congressional approval since it doesn’t go through the appropriations process.

There’s virtually no chance of CFPB’s funding shifting from the Fed to Congress during this round of negotiations regarding TRIA. But Hensarling’s strategy offers clues about how he’ll look to tackle the consumer agency in the next Congress when his hand will be strengthened.

— THE BOTTOM LINE: If there’s a short-term reauthorization – or even a 5-year reauthorization with Hensarling still in control of House Financial Services – he could very well use the same strategy in a GOP-controlled Congress.

LIBERALS TURN AGAINST FED, via Schroeder from this morning’s paper: “Left-leaning groups and lawmakers are taking their populist economic fight to the Federal Reserve, as they seek to exert new influence over key monetary decisions and a pair of vacancies at the central bank. The Fed has faced heavy criticism from the right for years, but the other side of the aisle is now beginning to publicly push the institution for preferred policies.” http://bit.ly/1rTJqmX.

FED: ECONOMY (STILL) RECOVERING, via The Hill’s Pete Schroeder: “Business contacts nationwide are relatively optimistic about the nation’s economy heading into the critical holiday season, according to the latest report from the Federal Reserve. The Fed released Wednesday its latest version of the ‘beige book,’ a collection of anecdotal takes from business contacts nationwide, and found a rosy outlook to be relatively widespread. The Fed found that the economy appeared to be growing nationwide from October to November, and several areas reported employment gains.”

— FED’s ECONOMIC CONCERNS, via Schroeder: “However, lingering problems that have bedeviled the U.S. economic recovery appear to still be an issue. Most districts reported that wage growth remained ‘subdued’ nationwide, although some areas reported signs of “nascent” wage growth after years of flat paychecks.” Story: http://bit.ly/1yhFLf5. Beige Book: http://1.usa.gov/1wtEiqG.

— HOW IT PLAYED: NBC News, “Fed’s upbeat Beige Book.” ... Wall Street Journal, “Fed’s Beige Book: Hiring Picks Up Broadly, but Wage Growth Is Muted.” ... Business Insider, “Jobs are growing everywhere.” ... Reuters, “Fed Beige Book Shows ‘Widespread’ Job Gains Across U.S.” ... MarketWatch, “Beige Book: Economic activity expanding with signs of optimism.”

FINCHER PLOTS AN EX-IM COMEBACK. The story via me: “Rep. Stephen FincherStephen Lee FincherTrump announces, endorses ambassador to Japan's Tennessee Senate bid Lamar Alexander's exit marks end of an era in evolving Tennessee Tensions on immigration erupt in the House GOP MORE (R-Tenn.) is trying to build support for a five-year reauthorization bill of the Export-Import Bank in the next Congress. Congress voted in September to extend the bank's charter through June amid a Republican debate over whether to continue government support for Ex-Im. The bank has historically won support from both parties, but conservative Republicans increasingly view it as an example of Washington ‘crony capitalism.’ Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) has led an effort to end the bank's existence.” Story: http://bit.ly/1yhFCZk.

— WHAT’S IN FINCHER’S BILL: Fincher argues that his bill would include reforms to make the bank’s financing programs more transparent. For example, he would add requirements that the bank offer more public disclosure of its efforts. The bill would also reverse Ex-Im guidelines that prevent financing for overseas power plants that decline to adopt green technology. Such a policy reversal is heavily championed by the coal industry and opposed by environmentalists. Read Fincher billhttp://bit.ly/1AhgCUM.

QUOTABLE, President Obama talking today about U.S. infrastructure spending: "I’d much rather have our problems than China’s problems. That I’m confident about. On the other hand, the one thing I will say is if they need to build some stuff, they can build it. And over time, that wears away our advantage competitively. It’s embarrassing. You know, you drive down the roads and you look at what they’re able to do." Justin Sink reports: http://bit.ly/11VVQyc

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