Overnight Finance: Puerto Rico bill clears panel | IRS chief vows to finish term | Bill would require nominees to release tax returns

HOUSE PANEL CLEARS PUERTO RICO BILL: The House Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday approved legislation to help Puerto Rico handle its debt crisis.

The committee approved the bill in a 29-10 vote, sending a measure hailed as the last, best hope for dealing with the island's fiscal woes to the House floor.


All 10 votes against the bill were Republicans: Reps. Louie GohmertLouis (Louie) Buller GohmertHillicon Valley: Facebook, Google face tough questions on white nationalism | Nielsen's exit raisers cyber worries | McConnell calls net neutrality bill 'dead on arrival' | Facebook changes terms for EU data Republicans offer 'free market alternative' to paid family leave YouTube shuts down comments on House hearing on white nationalism over hateful remarks MORE (Texas), John FlemingJohn Calvin FlemingThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Dems aim to end anti-Semitism controversy with vote today Former congressmen, RNC members appointed to Trump administration roles Overnight Energy: Watchdog opens investigation into Interior chief | Judge halts Pruitt truck pollution rule decision | Winners, losers in EPA, Interior spending bill amendments MORE (La.), Tom McClintock (Calif.), Jeff Duncan (S.C.) Doug LaMalfa (Calif.), Dan Newhouse (Wash.) Cresent Hardy (Nev.), Paul GosarPaul Anthony GosarRepublicans offer 'free market alternative' to paid family leave GOP lawmaker attacks critic as 'a little bitch' on Twitter Overnight Defense: NATO chief urges US to support alliance on its 70th anniversary | Turkey rebuffs Pentagon pressure over Russia deal | Rand Paul, liberals team up to push Trump on Syria withdrawal MORE (Ariz.), Rob WittmanRobert (Rob) Joseph WittmanWhy block citizenship to immigrants who defend America? Virginia reps urge Trump to declare federal emergency ahead of Hurricane Florence Overnight Defense: House passes 5B defense spending bill | Pentagon moving forward on Trump military parade | Mattis vows 'ironclad' support for South Korea's defense MORE (Va.) and Doug Lamborn (Colo.).

Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho), a Freedom Caucus member who helped draft the bill, voted yes. Rep. Norma Torres (D-Calif.) voted "present."

The Puerto Rico bill was developed over months of arduous negotiations and has the backing of House leaders in both parties, as well as the White House. It is expected to pass the House in early June, after the Memorial Day recess. I'll tell you how the bill changed--and how it didn't--right here: http://bit.ly/25muctt.

IRS CHIEF VOWS TO FINISH TERM IN FACE OF IMPEACHMENT: IRS Commissioner John Koskinen says he has no plans to leave his position early, even though some Republicans are trying to impeach him.

"I've got another year-and-a half to go on my term, and I expect to fulfill the full term," Koskinen told reporters Wednesday, one day after several Republicans pressed for his impeachment during a House Judiciary Committee hearing.

Koskinen's term expires in November 2017. He said came out of retirement and took the IRS job in 2013 -- shortly after it was revealed the agency subjected Tea Party groups' applications for tax-exempt status to extra scrutiny -- because he understood "the significance of the IRS." The Hill's Naomi Jagoda brings us up to speed: http://bit.ly/1WU7CDL.

LAWMAKERS BLAST DOJ, IRS OVER SEIZED FUNDS: Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle blasted the Internal Revenue Service and Department of Justice on Wednesday for failing to return small-business owners' wrongly seized assets and for not being clear about when the funds would be remitted.

"You've brought a subcommittee together who can't agree about what time of day it is," said Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.), chairman of the House Ways and Means oversight subcommittee, which held a hearing on the topic.

"The capacity to treat people in the dismissive way in which the departments have treated them is the part that all of us really find just jarring," Roskam added.

The top Democrat on the subcommittee, Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, agreed that this is a topic on which Democrats and Republicans are strongly united.

"On this issue, we are on one accord," he said. Naomi Jaogda takes us there: http://bit.ly/1WUgklz.

REID: WE'RE NOT BREAKING THE BUDGET DEAL: Senate Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidSanders courts GOP voters with 'Medicare for All' plan Glamorization of the filibuster must end Schumer won't rule out killing filibuster MORE (D-Nev.) warned Wednesday that Democrats won't support additional funding for the Pentagon that would break the two-year budget deal brokered by President Obama and former Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerNancy Pelosi had disastrous first 100 days as Speaker of the House Blockchain could spark renaissance economy 20 years after Columbine, Dems bullish on gun reform MORE (R-Ohio).

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainIf you don't think illegal immigrants are voting for president, think again 10 factors making Russia election interference the most enduring scandal of the Obama era Earth Day founder's daughter: Most Republican leaders believe in climate change in private MORE (R-Ariz.) is expected to offer an amendment to add at least $17 billion in defense spending to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

Reid said Wednesday that senators had hoped to avoid a budget fight this year after passing the two-year deal but "it doesn't appear that's possible."

"Democrats are going to proceed deliberately. We're going to hold Republicans to their word on the budget agreement," the Senate Democratic leader said. "We're going to do our job as we want them to do theirs. Our armed forces and middle-class Americans deserve nothing else."

His comments come as Republicans have lashed out at Reid, accusing him of delaying action on the NDAA. The Hill's Jordain Carney explains: http://bit.ly/20CYvVK.

HAPPY WEDNESDAY and welcome to Overnight Finance, where we'd love to listen in on Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanAppeals court rules House chaplain can reject secular prayers FEC filing: No individuals donated to indicted GOP rep this cycle The Hill's Morning Report - Waiting on Mueller: Answers come on Thursday MORE and Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpRussia's election interference is a problem for the GOP Pence to pitch trade deal during trip to Michigan: report Iran oil minister: US made 'bad mistake' in ending sanctions waivers MORE's phone call tonight. I'm Sylvan Lane, and here's your nightly guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line.

Tonight's highlights include IRS phone scams, backlash to the Puerto Rico bill and how to force Donald Trump to release his tax returns.

See something I missed? Let me know at slane@thehill.com or tweet me @SylvanLane. And if you like your newsletter, you can subscribe to it here: http://bit.ly/1NxxW2N.


  • House Small Business Committee: Hearing titled "The Sharing Economy: A Taxing Experience for New Entrepreneurs, Part II," 10 a.m. http://1.usa.gov/1Tv3Duk.
  • Senate Agriculture Committee: Hearing titled "A Review of the U.S. Livestock and Poultry Sectors: Marketplace Opportunities and Challenges," 10 a.m. http://1.usa.gov/1TjXPpq.

BILL WOULD REQUIRE NOMINEES TO RELEASE TAX RETURNS: Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOn The Money: Inside the Mueller report | Cain undeterred in push for Fed seat | Analysis finds modest boost to economy from new NAFTA | White House says deal will give auto sector B boost Government report says new NAFTA would have minimal impact on economy Hillicon Valley: Washington preps for Mueller report | Barr to hold Thursday presser | Lawmakers dive into AI ethics | FCC chair moves to block China Mobile | Dem bill targets 'digital divide' | Microsoft denies request for facial recognition tech MORE (D-Ore.) introduced a bill Tuesday that would require presidential nominees to release their tax returns.

The bill comes as likely GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump refuses to release his records.

Trump has said he won't release them until he is done being audited by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). But the IRS has said nothing prevents anyone from releasing their own returns, including an audit.

Wyden, the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, pointed out that major-party candidates for almost 40 years have consistently released their tax returns. The Oregon senator has endorsed Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump rips Krugman, NYT after columnist writes GOP no longer believes in American values Klobuchar jokes to Cuomo: 'I feel you creeping over my shoulder' but 'not in a Trumpian manner' Dems seek to rein in calls for impeachment MORE, who has released more than 30 years of her returns. Naomi Jagoda tells us more: http://bit.ly/1NNEF9c.

CITIBANK TO PAY $425 MILLION TO SETTLE MANIPULATION CHARGES: Citibank is paying $425 million in penalties to settle federal civil charges for attempting to manipulate key benchmarks used to set interest rates.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) on Wednesday announced two settlements with Citibank, a wing of banking giant Citigroup, for trying to maximize profits by fixing the financial benchmarks.

The CFTC fined Citibank $250 million for trying on multiple occasions from January 2007 through January 2012, to manipulate and make false reports about the U.S. Dollar International Swaps and Derivatives Association Fix (USD ISDAFIX), a global benchmark for interest rate products.

"Citibank is required to take specified steps to implement and strengthen its internal controls and procedures, including measures to detect and deter trading potentially intended to manipulate swap rates such as USD ISDAFIX and to ensure the integrity of interest-rate swap benchmarks," the CFTC said in a statement. The Hill's Vicki Needham explains: http://bit.ly/25hZCxn.

FIVE ARRESTED FOR IRS PHONE SCAMS: Five people were arrested this week for their alleged roles in phone scams involving impersonating Internal Revenue Service agents, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration said (TIGTA).

Those arrested are allegedly responsible for almost $2 million in scams with more than 1,500 victims, TIGTA said.

Under the suspects' scams, victims received phone calls from people pretending to be IRS agents. The callers would tell the victims that they would be arrested if they did not make payments, and the callers told victims to wire them money, TIGTA said, citing court documents. Naomi Jagoda tells us what happens next: http://bit.ly/1WUi0eI.

MENENDEZ OPPOSING PUERTO RICO DEBT BILL: A top Senate Democrat on Tuesday said that while he is encouraged by the progress made to craft legislation to aid Puerto Rico, a House bill doesn't go far enough to help the island territory.

Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezWe can accelerate a cure for Alzheimer's The Hill's 12:30 Report: Manafort sentenced to total of 7.5 years in prison Acting Defense chief calls Graham an 'ally' after tense exchange MORE (N.J.) said on the Senate floor that "Congress is faced with an immediate and serious choice" when it comes to passing legislation to help the island territory restructure $72 billion in debt.

"Indeed, the decisions we make in the next month will have profound consequences on the people of Puerto Rico for a generation," Menendez said.

"The stakes are so high, we simply have to get this right," he said. Vicki Needham tells us why he's not backing it: http://bit.ly/1NNF4Ze.

BUSINESS GROUPS PUSH FOR CLOSER US-INDIA RELATIONS: U.S. businesses groups are urging President Obama and Congress to make progress on the U.S. economic relationship with India during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's June visit to Washington.

In letters sent to the president and congressional leaders, the Alliance for Fair Trade with India, which includes a broad range of groups from manufacturers to pharmaceutical and telecommunications firms, said that Modi's trip presents an important opportunity to discuss and resolve many important commercial matters that are limiting India's own trade engagement and growth.

"We hope you will use this visit to engage with the Prime Minister to advance both discussions and concrete action to produce a stronger and more-promising U.S.-India commercial relationship," they wrote. Vicki Needham tells us what's at stake: http://bit.ly/1TKWLJA.

SENATOR PROPOSES SEPARATE BUDGET FOR REGULATIONS: Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeGOP senator compares Mueller report's obstruction findings to 'Pinocchio' in 'Shrek 3' Dems sound alarm over top DOJ nominee Restore Pell Grant eligibility to people in prison MORE unveiled legislation Wednesday that would force the president to draft a separate annual budget request for regulations.

Under the Regulatory Budget Act, introduced in both the House and Senate, Congress would be required to approve a budget specifically for regulations. The act would set caps on regulatory costs in tandem with the fiscal budget.

The bill, backed by Reps. Mark Walker (R-N.C.), Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) and Dave Brat (R-Va.), would, for the first time, require Congress to vote on the total regulatory costs each agency is allowed to impose on the economy.

The legislation is part of the Article I project Lee started with Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), an initiative he's undertaken to reassert Congress's powers under Article I of the Constitution. The project covers the regulatory and budget process as well as civil service reforms. The Hill's Lydia Wheeler reports: http://bit.ly/1ONODlV.

Write us with tips, suggestions and news: slane@thehill.com, vneedham@thehill.com; pschroeder@thehill.com, and njagoda@thehill.com. Follow us on Twitter: @SylvanLane,  @VickofTheHill; @PeteSchroeder; and @NJagoda.