Overnight Finance: Dems warn against spending bill 'poison pills'

WELCOME BACK TO OVERNIGHT FINANCE -- I'm Vicki Needham, good to see you again. It's Tuesday and we've got news on trade, transportation, spending bills and more. So come on in and browse around a bit. 

SHOW ME THE MONEY: Via Keith Laing: "The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) wants lawmakers to boost the federal government's annual spending for public transportation in the upcoming negotiations between the House and Senate on a new highway bill, even if it results in a shorter infrastructure funding package." http://bit.ly/1Oef5X8

House and Senate conferees are set to meet Wednesday morning to start the process of hammering out the details of a long-term federal transportation spending bill. 


Negotiators now have until Dec. 4 to strike a deal after providing themselves with an extra two weeks to navigate the congressional schedule and the Thanksgiving holiday next week. 

Many transportation watchers are keeping a close eye on the bill specifically awaiting a renewal of the Export-Import Bank's charter, which expired at the end of June. While the six-year infrastructure bill is expected to clear Congress, until President Obama signs the legislation into law, bank supporters may have a few more restless nights ahead. 

Still, the Ex-Im language is identical in the House and Senate bills -- extending the bank's life into 2019 -- so probably no need to lose much sleep over conferees changing that part of the legislation, especially after both chambers got a majority of their members to support a renewal. 

Meanwhile, another group, Arlington, Va.-based Travelers United said Tuesday that custom fees paid by passengers should not be used to prop up other areas of the federal budget.

Lawmakers have tapped about $4 billion in custom fees for recent temporary transportation funding extensions, and they are considering taking another $5.7 billion from the fund to help pay for the long-term infrastructure bill. http://bit.ly/1SBFK1b

YOU'RE NOT RIDING WITH ME: From The Hill's Mike Lillis: House Democrats aren't keen on accepting any Republican riders to an omnibus spending bill that must be done by Dec. 11 or risk a government shutdown.

House Democrats are sending a clear warning across the aisle ahead of a contentious debate over government spending: Any "poison pill" amendments are dead on arrival.

"We're going to stand firm on the riders and the president's going to stand firm with us," Rep. Nita Lowey (N.Y.), senior Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, said Tuesday.

Rep. Steny Hoyer (Md.), the Democratic whip, sounded a similar warning. 

"We are unified as Democrats in opposing any riders which would be rightfully referred to as 'poison pills,'" Hoyer told reporters in the Capitol. http://bit.ly/1PyWZlU

DON'T GO THERE: By our Peter Schroeder: "Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen is telling lawmakers that pending legislation would "severely damage the U.S. economy."

"In a letter sent to the Capitol, Yellen blasted a bill due for a House vote that would overhaul how the Fed operates. Among the changes in the bill, offered by Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Mich.), is one that would require the Fed to steer monetary policy based on a predetermined set of policy rules.

The House is set to consider the legislation this week.

The measure would require an audit of the central bank and clarify the "blackout period" regarding when agency employees can speak publicly about policies.

"The bill would severely impair the Federal Reserve's ability to carry out its congressional mandate and would be a grave mistake, detrimental to the economy and the American people," she wrote.


PROBABLY WANT TO AVOID THAT, TOO: From Schroeder: "Puerto Rico's congressional representative blasted the idea of a federal board to oversee the territory's troubled finances Tuesday, saying it would amount to a 'dictatorship.'

"Pedro Pierluisi (D), Puerto Rico's non-voting member of Congress, dismissed the idea floated in the Capitol as an unforgiveable breach on Puerto Rico's autonomy, even as the territory turns to Congress for help steering through its unbearable debt load."

Some key Republicans, including Senate Judiciary Chairman Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyCollins says she will vote 'no' on Supreme Court nominee before election The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump, GOP allies prepare for SCOTUS nomination this week Gardner signals support for taking up Supreme Court nominee this year MORE (R-Iowa), have suggested a federal board similar to the one used in the District of Columbia during the 1990s could help the territory reconcile its troubled finances. http://bit.ly/1ltJ58e

DEEP DIVE: House Democrats got the ball rolling on an examination of the environmental chapter of an expansive Pacific Rim trade agreement that Congress could consider next year. It is the first of what is expected to be a bunch of sessions to better acquaint Democrats with the details of the 12-nation agreement, which was released a couple of weeks ago. Negotiators completed the deal on Oct. 5 in Atlanta.

Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.), ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee, gathered up panel members and other Democrats on Tuesday afternoon to chat with several experts about the merits and problems with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement's chapter on the environment. 

Only two Democratic members of the panel -- Reps. Ron KindRonald (Ron) James KindWisconsin Rep. Ron Kind wins primary Democrats exit briefing saying they fear elections under foreign threat Bottom line MORE (Wis.) and Earl BlumenauerEarl BlumenauerAhead of a coronavirus vaccine, Mexico's drug pricing to have far-reaching impacts on Americans Trump threatens to double down on Portland in other major cities Federal agents deployed to Portland did not have training in riot control: NYT MORE (Ore.) -- backed the White House's efforts this summer to renew trade promotion authority that allows the TPP to move through Congress without amendments. 

"We can't solve all the world's problems in the context of a multilateral trade agreement," Kind said during the hearing. 

Kind said someone needed to convince him that the TPP is worse than the status quo. 

Ilana Solomon, a trade expert with the Sierra Club, took a stab. She argued that the sweeping trade agreement contains plenty of aspirational language without any teeth to enforce a new set of global trade rules.

But Dr. Joshua Meltzer, senior fellow in global economy and development with the Brookings Institution, argued that the entire environmental chapter is binding and enforceable and that "we will be better off with the TPP than without it."

Expect plenty more discussions as lawmakers decide whether they will back a top policy goal of the White House or decide it doesn't meet the standards they set out in the fast-track law or otherwise. 

Only 28 Democrats supported the president this summer so it's a tough battle for the White House. 

Earlier in the day, Levin testified at a International Trade Commission (ITC) hearing on the economic effects of past agreements, urging the agency to give more weight to how previous deals have affected income inequality and wages in the United States. 

"I believe that the ITC report can be a critical tool to help us to better understand how to craft our trade agreements to ensure that benefits of trade are shared broadly," Levin said.  

The ITC is preparing an assessment of the TPP. 

"It may go without saying, but the issues I have highlighted today are also incredibly important issues for the ITC to analyze in its assessment of the TPP," Levin said. 

"I know that the 105 days provided to complete that report may occur before this retrospective report is completed, but these same issues must be addressed in order to complete a detailed and thorough analysis of TPP."

TOO BIG TO PASS: No, you read that right, it's not too big to fail. A handful of Democrats opposed to the TPP will argue on Wednesday that the TPP is too big to pass Congress. The deal, which covers 40 percent of global growth, puts horror master author Stephen King to shame in its length. The Dems -- Reps. Rosa DeLauro (Conn.), Louise Slaughter (N.Y.), Marcy Kaptur (Ohio), Nydia Velázquez (N.Y.), Mark PocanMark William PocanOvernight Defense: Pentagon redirects pandemic funding to defense contractors | US planning for full Afghanistan withdrawal by May | Anti-Trump GOP group puts ads in military papers Democrats call for investigation into Pentagon redirecting COVID-19 funds Clark rolls out endorsements in assistant Speaker race MORE (Wis.) -- say they will have the more than 5,000-page trade deal on display at the press conference. 

Not sure who is going to carry that over to the House Triangle ... I hope there's no rain or wind because, well, no one wants to be chasing all that paper around the Capitol. 

SPEAKING OF TRADE: President Obama is in the Philippines and will deliver remarks later Tuesday night at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation CEO Summit – featuring 800 business leaders representing U.S. and Asia-Pacific companies. That starts at 9:15 p.m. EST and can be watched here: http://1.usa.gov/1HX6JP9

The president will then meet with leaders of the TPP countries for the first time since the deal was inked more than a month ago. He will attend more APEC meetings on Wednesday. 

MORTGAGE LENDING ROLL BACK: By The Hill's Lydia Wheeler: The House is expected to vote Wednesday on a bill that would change mortgage rules designed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to prevent the shoddy lending practices that led to the financial crisis. http://bit.ly/1WY1Am6

Consumer advocates aren't fond of a Republican-backed bill "they say would open the door for the brand of reckless lending practices that led to the financial crisis of 2008."

The Center for Responsible Lending (CRL) says the measure would weaken federal rules that took effect last year to ensure a borrower's ability to repay a loan.

Barr's bill extends that "safe harbor" to all banking institutions and provides flexibility supporters say is needed for rules that are now too restrictive and have caused community bankers to decrease or eliminate their mortgage businesses.

Credit unions like it and argue that the measure would allow residential mortgage loans held in portfolio by credit unions and other lenders to be treated as qualified mortgages (QM) under the CFPB's rules. 

"We strongly support this commonsense effort to provide credit unions and their 100 million member-owners regulatory relief and urge the House to support it as well," the National Association of Federal Credit Unions (NAFCU) said in a letter to House leaders on Tuesday night. 

CAN YOU CARRY ME?: A pair of lawmakers -- Sen. Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinKeep teachers in the classroom Cher raised million for Biden campaign at LGBTQ-themed fundraiser Democrats seek balance in backing protests, condemning violence MORE (D-Wis.) and Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.) -- and advocates -- the Patriotic Millionaires -- on Wednesday  will call on Congress to take up legislation to close the carried interest loophole, which they argue would generate more than $15 billion in revenue.

MIND THE GAP: Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenHarris joins women's voter mobilization event also featuring Pelosi, Gloria Steinem, Jane Fonda Judd Gregg: The Kamala threat — the Californiaization of America GOP set to release controversial Biden report MORE (D-Mass.) on Wednesday will join the Economic Policy Institute and the AFL-CIO's Liz Shuler and other leaders to release EPI's ambitious Women's Economic Agenda. The report examines what policies are needed to narrow the wage gap between men and women. 

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