Overnight Finance: Freedom Caucus chair courts Dems on tax reform | House passes $36.5B disaster relief package | House GOP worries about budget's fate in Senate

Overnight Finance: Freedom Caucus chair courts Dems on tax reform | House passes $36.5B disaster relief package | House GOP worries about budget's fate in Senate

Freedom Caucus chair courts Dems on tax reform: Rep. Mark Meadows, the conservative hard-liner and chairman of the far-right House Freedom Caucus, is playing an unlikely role in the push for tax reform: liaison to Democrats.

In a bid to help shape and build support for the tax package, the North Carolina Republican has been reaching across the aisle to a handful of moderate Democrats, he told The Hill in an interview. The outreach includes Rep. John DelaneyJohn Kevin DelaneyTop-tier Dems begin making way to Iowa Election Countdown: Midterm fight heats up over Kavanaugh | McConnell sees energized base | Dems look to women to retake House | How suburban voters could decide control of Congress | Taylor Swift backs Tennessee Dems | Poll shows Cruz up 5 in Texas Dem 2020 primary season is unofficially underway MORE (Md.), who has said he's running for president in 2020, and Rep. John GaramendiJohn Raymond GaramendiOvernight Defense: Mattis dismisses talk he may be leaving | Polish president floats 'Fort Trump' | Dem bill would ban low-yield nukes Dems introduce bill to ban low-yield nukes Trump is wrong, Dems are fighting to save Medicare and Social Security MORE, the former California insurance commissioner and lieutenant governor.

Meadows's top ally, former Freedom Caucus chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), has taken part in many of those informal, bipartisan discussions.


A number of skeptical, moderate Republicans could peel off from the GOP tax-reform bill, so Meadows and Jordan are looking to make up for those losses with Democratic votes.

"Jim Jordan and I believe that tax reform is a critical component that we must deliver on and that it doesn't necessarily follow along a Republican or conservative line as much as it follows along a line that supports all the hard-working American taxpayers across the country," Meadows told The Hill in an interview.

The Hill's Scott Wong and Alexander Bolton have more: http://bit.ly/2gAlwuk


House passes $36.5 billion disaster relief package: The House easily passed legislation on Thursday to provide $36.5 billion in aid for communities affected by recent hurricanes and wildfires, despite concerns from some conservatives about the growing cost of disaster aid.

All of the votes in opposition were from Republicans in the 353-69 vote.

The package includes $18.7 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) disaster relief fund -- including $4.9 billion for a disaster relief loan account -- $16 billion to address national flood insurance program debt and $576.5 million for wildfire recovery efforts. It also provided $1.27 billion for disaster food assistance for Puerto Rico.

The bill advanced as wildfires that are expected to become the costliest in California history continue to rage in the state's wine country. More than 80 percent of Puerto Rico also remains without power in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria while major cities in Texas, Florida and other gulf states continue rebuilding efforts following Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Congress is likely to approve billions of dollars in additional disaster aid in the months to come.

The Hill's Niv Elis and Cristina Marcos with the story: http://bit.ly/2yHl7Bc


69 Republicans voted against disaster aid: The 69 votes in opposition included many members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, who believe government spending should not add to the deficit.

Freedom Caucus leaders like Chairman Mark Meadows (N.C.), Justin AmashJustin AmashWatchdog files Hatch Act complaint against Sanders for picture with Kanye in MAGA hat Cook Political Report shifts 7 more races towards Dems Rand Paul ramps up his alliance with Trump MORE (Mich.) and Jim Jordan (Ohio), voted against the aid package.

Rep. Mark Walker (N.C.), who leads the Republican Study Committee, also voted against the legislation due to the lack of offsets.

The majority of the House GOP conference did vote for the legislation, including every member of the Florida delegation whose state was ravaged by Hurricane Irma last month.

But six Texas Republicans voted against the bill: Reps. Joe BartonJoe Linus BartonConservatives blame McCarthy for Twitter getting before favorable committee Worst-case scenario for House GOP is 70-seat wipeout Latina Leaders to Watch 2018 MORE, Louie GohmertLouis (Louie) Buller GohmertHouse conservatives want ethics probe into Dems' handling of Kavanaugh allegations Hillicon Valley: State officials share tech privacy concerns with Sessions | Senator says election security bill won't pass before midterms | Instagram co-founders leave Facebook | Google chief to meet GOP lawmakers over bias claims Trump: 'Fake news media’ didn’t cover when Obama said '57 states' in 2008 MORE, Jeb Hensarling, Kenny Marchant, John Ratcliffe and Roger WilliamsJohn (Roger) Roger WilliamsDems gain momentum 50 days before midterms GOP: The economy will shield us from blue wave Republicans have spent .5 million at Trump properties since he took office: report MORE.

Cristina Marcos breaks it down: http://bit.ly/2g61J5d


In House, worries about Senate GOP and budget grow: House Republicans growing increasingly frustrated with the Senate are worried their budget could hit a snag in the upper chamber, where other House-passed legislation has become stuck in quicksand or completely fallen apart.

Republicans in the Senate can only afford two defections on the budget, which would unlock a process to prevent Democrats from filibustering a GOP tax-reform bill.

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulSaudi mystery drives wedge between Trump, GOP Noisy democracy, or rude people behaving like children? Lawmakers, Wall Street shrug off Trump's escalating Fed attacks MORE (R-Ky.) has said he plans to vote against the budget, while Sen. Thad CochranWilliam (Thad) Thad CochranThe Hill's Morning Report — Kavanaugh ordeal thrusts FBI into new political jam GOP Senate candidate to African Americans: Stop begging for 'government scraps' Trump endorses Hyde-Smith in Mississippi Senate race MORE (R-Miss.) has been dealing with health issues.

"When you have a very slim majority, three or four senators over on that side control the destiny of tax reform, and in many cases that's just unacceptable for the American people," said Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Ohio), a member of the House Budget Committee.

"We're hoping that the Senate now does their job and gets the budget passed as well," he said.

Niv Elis has the details: http://bit.ly/2wRi2tI


Happy Thursday and welcome back to Overnight Finance. I'm Vicki Needham coming in from the bullpen to provide relief for our trusty Sylvan Lane. Here we go with the news on another busy day in Washington and around the world. 


GOP senator disputes Trump tax cut claim: Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyTrump officials ratchet up drug pricing fight Dems angered by GOP plan to hold judicial hearings in October American Bar Association dropping Kavanaugh review MORE (R-Iowa) on Thursday disputed President Trump's claim that his proposed tax cuts would be the largest in U.S. history but nonetheless offered support for the president's reform plan.

Trump has repeatedly talked up the size of proposed corporate and income tax cuts. In a speech to the National Association of Manufacturers last month, he said it would be a "giant, beautiful, massive, the biggest ever in our country, tax cut."

But Grassley, a member and former chairman of the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee, took issue with that claim in a series of tweets. Grassley listed the size of tax cuts passed during the George W. Bush administration and then provided estimates of what the size of those cuts are adjusted for inflation. 

It's unclear exactly how much of a net tax cut will be included in legislation. The Senate Budget Committee approved a measure that would allow up to $1.5 trillion in tax cuts, but Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerOvernight Defense: Trump shifts tone on Saudis | New pressure from lawmakers | Trump: 'Certainly looks' like Khashoggi dead | Pompeo gives Saudis days to wrap up investigation | Trump threatens military action on border to stop migrants Trump changes tone on Saudi Arabia amid mounting pressure The Hill's 12:30 Report — Mnuchin won't attend Saudi conference | Pompeo advises giving Saudis 'few more days' to investigate | Trump threatens military action over caravan MORE (R-Tenn.) has said he won't vote for any tax bill that adds to the deficit. The text of a tax bill won't be released until after the House and Senate agree on a budget resolution.

The Hill's Naomi Jagoda has the story: http://bit.ly/2xBk3hV


Ryan: Lawmakers could stay in Washington for Christmas to pass tax bill: Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanThe Memo: Saudi storm darkens for Trump The Hill's 12:30 Report — Mnuchin won't attend Saudi conference | Pompeo advises giving Saudis 'few more days' to investigate | Trump threatens military action over caravan The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Health care a top policy message in fall campaigns MORE (R-Wis.) said Thursday that he'd keep lawmakers in Washington at Christmas time to vote on a tax bill if necessary.

"I mean, I don't care. We got to get this done," the Speaker said at the Heritage Foundation. 

Ryan said that Congress is "on track" to get a tax-reform bill enacted by the end of the year. He noted that the House passed its budget resolution with tax-reform instructions last week, and the Senate plans to advance its measure next week.

The Speaker predicted that the House will send a tax bill to the Senate in November. "That gives us time to get this thing done in law," he said.

Ryan said that if a new tax system is in place at the beginning of 2018, he thinks the U.S. could grow by at least 3 percent next year. The Trump administration has also been calling for tax reform to boost growth to 3 percent.

Naomi Jagoda has the details: http://bit.ly/2gzhiTM


Business groups sound alarm on Trump trade policies: Business groups are raising alarms about the Trump administration's proposals to update the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as the fourth round of talks started on Wednesday.

The feud between powerful business groups and the White House ramped up with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable among others taking their case to Capitol Hill. The groups are concerned that President Trump's threats to withdraw from the 23-year-old pact combined with a handful of controversial proposals could torpedo the deal.

"The companies represented at the Business Roundtable are very concerned with reports that the Trump administration will weaken NAFTA with drastic changes that would disrupt supply chains that have greatly benefited U.S. businesses, workers and consumers over the last two decades," Josh Bolten, BRT's president and CEO of the group, wrote in a blog post. 

"Even worse, withdrawal from NAFTA would put at stake millions of American jobs in every sector of the U.S. economy, the competitiveness of U.S.-produced goods and services, and our country's standing as a global economic leader," he added.

I have the story here: http://bit.ly/2wS0Zrg


Breitbart criticizes Trump tax plan: Right-wing site Breitbart News attacked President Trump's tax plan on Thursday, arguing that it wouldn't help the people he says it would.

In an article Thursday morning, the news site chaired by former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon ripped the GOP's framework for tax reform and argued that Trump pitched the plan to truck drivers "who may see little or no direct benefit" on Wednesday night.

"There's very little in the framework, moreover, that would directly benefit most truckers," Breitbart's John Carney wrote, saying that Trump's plan would raise taxes for a family making the median income for truck drivers by about $200 a year.

Trump sold his tax reform plan in Pennsylvania in front of a crowd of truck drivers, telling his audience the plan would be "rocket fuel" for America's economy.

"It will be rocket fuel for the economy," Trump said Wednesday. "You're going to make more money. You're going to do better than ever before. And we truly admire you. You are our heroes, believe me," he added. "You are our heroes."

The Hill's John Bowden has the details: http://bit.ly/2g6Yqux


Ryan urges conservatives to take on critics of GOP tax plan: Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is urging conservatives to push back against criticism of the GOP's tax plan as he seeks to build momentum for his top legislative priority.

"I say: Let's have this debate. Let's tackle these baseless arguments head on," Ryan said in prepared remarks for a speech Thursday at the Heritage Foundation, a prominent conservative think tank.

The White House and congressional GOP leaders released a tax-reform framework in late September that is designed to serve as a starting point for legislation. The plan would collapse the number of individual tax rates, slash rates for businesses and eliminate the estate tax and the alternative minimum tax.

Outside conservative groups have been rallying around the framework -- in contrast to the lack of unified support that conservatives gave to the GOP's bills to repeal and replace ObamaCare earlier this year. Right-leaning organizations have praised Republican lawmakers' plans in letters as well as in advertisements.

But the plan has already faced pushback from Democrats, who argue that it would drastically increase the deficit and mostly benefit the wealthy taxpayers at the expense of everyone else. Some lobbyists have also started to fight to preserve tax preferences that appear to be on the chopping block.

Naomi Jagoda reports: http://bit.ly/2z4srCG


Write us with tips, suggestions and news: slane@thehill.comvneedham@thehill.comnjagoda@thehill.com and nelis@thehill.com. Follow us on Twitter: @SylvanLane,  @VickofTheHill, @NJagoda and @NivElis