Business & Economy

Overnight Finance: Tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber | Trump eyes 15 percent corporate tax rate | Border wall funding fight | Deal on vote for trade pick

Trump wants 15 percent corporate tax rate: President Trump wants his administration to draft a tax plan that would cut the corporate tax rate to 15 percent, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.

The Journal, citing “people familiar with the directive,” reported that Trump told his staff last week that he wants to be able to sell a large tax cut to the public and is less concerned about the proposal adding to the deficit.

Trump is slated to describe his principles for tax reform on Wednesday. The White House and congressional Republicans have made enacting a tax bill one of their top priorities of this year. The Hill’s Naomi Jagoda has more:

Trump team to meet with congressional leaders on tax reform: Members of the White House’s economic team are scheduled to meet with top GOP lawmakers on Capitol Hill Tuesday, one day before President Trump releases his principles for tax reform, according to congressional aides.

Administration officials at the meeting are expected to include Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn. Among the lawmakers present will be House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). Naomi Jagoda reports:

Mnuchin to discuss tax reform at The Hill’s event Wednesday: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is slated to discuss the Trump administration’s tax reform efforts with The Hill’s editor-in-chief, Bob Cusack, at an event on Wednesday.

{mosads}The event, part of The Hill’s Newsmaker Series, will take place from 8 a.m. to 9:35 a.m. on April 26 at the Newseum.

The event comes on the day that President Trump is expected to describe his principles for tax reform.

To register for the event, please click here:

Happy Monday and welcome to Overnight Finance, where we’re getting ready for a wild week on Capitol Hill. I’m Sylvan Lane, and here’s your nightly guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line.

Tonight’s highlights include new sanctions against Syria, explaining Trump’s steel order and tough words from Elizabeth Warren.

See something I missed? Let me know at or tweet me @SylvanLane. And if you like your newsletter, you can subscribe to it here:

Trump to impose tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber: The Trump administration will slap new tariffs on softwood lumber entering the U.S. from Canada, a move sure to inflame a long-running trade dispute between the two countries.

President Trump announced his decision Monday evening during a reception with conservative journalists, and a White House official confirmed it. The official said the tariff could go as high as 24 percent.

U.S. lumber producers will be pleased by Trump’s decision; they have long alleged that Canadian lumber imports are unfairly subsidized because companies north of the border can source timber from government-owned land.

Canada has long denied that it subsidizes lumber, saying that producers must pay market rates for its wood. Softwood lumber is one of Canada’s largest exports and the U.S. takes in almost 80 percent of the supply.

New tariffs could hurt ordinary Americans by driving up the price of homes, critics say. Since the dissolution of the most recent U.S.-Canada lumber deal, wood prices have jumped about 20 percent.

The move, which comes close to Trump’s 100th day in office, is another example of his desire to take a tougher approach on trade.

The Hill’s Jordan Fabian and Vicki Needham have more here:

The week ahead: Congress is returning from a two-week recess with just days to pass a spending bill before a partial government shutdown.

Funding expires on April 28, meaning parts of the federal government would cease non-essential operations until more money is approved by Congress and the president.

The White House says they expect to reach a deal to keep the government open, but talks among President Trump’s aides and lawmakers have grown contentious.

Trump’s budget chief wants preliminary funding for a border wall, one of the president’s top campaign promises, but a demand Democrats strongly oppose. Read more on what to expect here:

Trump steps up calls for border wall: President Trump on Monday said building a wall on the Mexican border will stop drugs from coming into the United States.

Trump offered the argument on Twitter the same day lawmakers return to Washington with a week remaining to fund the government. The White House would like to see money for the wall in the funding bill.

“The Wall is a very important tool in stopping drugs from pouring into our country and poisoning our youth (and many others)!” the president tweeted.

He later added that without the wall, the “drug situation will NEVER be fixed the way it should be!”

Democrats and some Republicans have voiced strong opposition to using the spending bill as a vehicle to begin funding the border wall.

Dems: Trump risks government shutdown over border wall: Top Democrats blasted President Trump on Monday, accusing him of derailing last-minute funding talks meant to avert a government shutdown by pressing for border wall funding.

“Our appropriators were well on a path to resolving their differences and finding their common ground, respecting each other’s priorities until the White House intervened,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters during a conference call. 

Lawmakers have until Friday night to pass legislation to keep government open but they appear increasingly at an impasse with the White House.

The Hill’s Jordain Carney reports:

Latest update: McConnell says no deal yet on funding: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said lawmakers are continuing to negotiate on a bill to keep the government funded and prevent a shutdown at the end of the week.

McConnell offered no news of progress in the talks but said the goal was to complete work “very soon”

“As we all know, bipartisan talks continued through the state work period on the way forward on government funding legislation,” he said from the Senate floor.

“Those discussions continue this week so we can complete our work on that issue very soon.” The Hill’s Jordain Carney has the latest here:

State removes post highlighting Trump Mar-a-Lago resort: A State Department website has removed a blog post about President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort following criticism over ethical concerns.

The blog, initially posted on ShareAmerica, a State Department platform used for sharing what it describes as “compelling stories” detailed the history of Trump’s “Winter White House.” It immediately led to concerns that the U.S. government was promoting Trump’s private resort.

“The intention of the article was to inform the public about where the President has been hosting world leaders,” the web page now reads. “We regret any misperception and have removed the post.” Ethics groups have warned about the potential conflict of interest presented by the private Florida resort.

The Hill’s Paulina Firozi explains the controversy here:

Deal sets up Trump trade pick vote Tuesday: President Trump’s nominee to lead the nation’s trade office is expected to get a vote in the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday after months in a holding pattern.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and the committee’s top Democrat, Ron Wyden (Ore.,) reached a breakthrough agreement that will allow a vote on U.S. Trade Representative-designee Robert Lighthizer as well as consideration of a congressional waiver so he can take the helm of the agency.

Democrats have insisted that Lighthizer needs the House and the Senate to approve a waiver because he represented foreign governments in trade negotiations or disputes in 1985 and 1991.

The Hill’s Vicki Needham explains:

White House downplays expectations infrastructure plan will be ready soon: The White House is tamping down expectations that the details of President Trump’s $1 trillion infrastructure plan will soon be released.

While President Trump said last week that his proposal is “coming fast”, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Monday that the administration wants to first tackle other legislative priorities before focusing on a national rebuilding program.

“That’s on the list, but I think we seem to have our hands full right now with tax reform and healthcare,” Spicer said at his daily briefing. “He’s obviously still committed to seeing infrastructure … but let’s get these first two things moving.”

Still, officials appear to be speeding up the timeline for the proposal, which was initially slated for the fall,  as the administration looks for legislative victory.

The Hill’s Melanie Zanona has more on the expected timing here:

US sanctions Syria for chemical weapons attack: The U.S. imposed new sanctions on Syria in response to a chemical weapons attack earlier this month that Western officials have said was ordered by Syrian President Bashar Assad, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced Monday.

The new sanctions freeze assets and prevent U.S. entities from doing business with more than 200 employees of a Syrian government agency tasked with producing non-conventional weapons. 

Mnuchin said the measures show “we will not tolerate the use of chemical weapons by any actor and we intend to hold the Assad regime accountable for its unacceptable behavior.” 

The sanctions follow a cruise missile strike ordered by President Trump against a Syrian airbase where the chemical attack was believed to have originated. Here’s more from The Hill’s Jordan Fabian and me:

Senate approves Trump’s Agriculture chief: The Senate easily approved Sonny Perdue on Monday to lead the U.S. Agriculture Department (USDA).

Senators voted 87-11 on the former Georgia governor’s nomination, readily hitting the simple majority needed to approve President Trump’s pick.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) praised Perdue from the Senate floor earlier Monday, saying they would work together to “continue developing smart agriculture policies that support both Kentucky and our country.”

The Senate easily approved Sonny Perdue on Monday to lead the U.S. Agriculture Department (USDA).

Senators voted 87-11 on the former Georgia governor’s nomination, readily hitting the simple majority needed to approve President Trump’s pick.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) praised Perdue from the Senate floor earlier Monday, saying they would work together to “continue developing smart agriculture policies that support both Kentucky and our country.”

The Hill’s Jordain Carney has more on the vote:

Five things to know about Trump’s steel order: President Trump is looking to crack down on a flood of imports to the United States that many in the administration argue have led to job losses and are hurting the U.S. economy.

On Thursday, President Trump signed an executive order launching a wide-ranging investigation into whether certain steel imports from countries like China are hurting national security.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the probe will allow the new administration to more broadly evaluate potentially harmful imports.

The Hill’s Vicki Needham tells us five things to know about the steel order:

Warren: Trump ‘all talk’ on Wall Street: Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) tore into President Trump on Saturday over his efforts to dismantle Obama-era financial regulations, arguing that the real estate mogul’s attacks on Wall Street during the campaign were “all talk.”

Trump’s “actions in his first 100 days have shown his tough talk against Wall Street and big corporations was just that: all talk,” Warren wrote on Twitter.

Trump signed a series of orders on Friday directing Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to review Obama-era tax regulations and financial rules, including parts of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, which Trump vowed to dismantle while on the campaign trail:


Write us with tips, suggestions and news:, and Follow us on Twitter: @SylvanLane,  @VickofTheHill and @NJagoda.

Tags Elizabeth Warren Kevin Brady Mitch McConnell Orrin Hatch Paul Ryan Ron Wyden

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