Overnight Finance: GOP leaders strike deal on tax bill | Vote expected next week | Trump makes last pitch for tax bill | Fed hikes rates for third time this year

Overnight Finance: GOP leaders strike deal on tax bill | Vote expected next week | Trump makes last pitch for tax bill | Fed hikes rates for third time this year
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Negotiators strike deal in principle on tax bill: Senate and House Republicans have struck an "agreement in principle" on a sweeping tax-cut bill that if passed would be the first major piece of legislation signed by President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate MORE.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchKey Republicans say Biden can break Washington gridlock Trump awards Medal of Freedom to racing industry icon Roger Penske Trump holds more Medal of Freedom ceremonies than predecessors but awards fewer medals MORE (R-Utah) told reporters Wednesday of the deal between Senate and House negotiators on taxes.

"We're going to talk to our members of conference about it at noon," said Sen. John CornynJohn CornynTensions rise in Senate's legislative 'graveyard' Congress feels heat to act on youth vaping Senate passes legislation supporting Hong Kong protesters MORE (R-Texas).

Senate Republican leaders say they have the votes to pass the legislation next week.

"I'm confident we'll pass the bill next week," Cornyn said. "Earlier is better."


GOP sources familiar with the conference committee talks said negotiators are now just cleaning up some of the details on paying for last-minute changes to the bill, which would lower the top individual tax rate to 37 percent and set the corporate tax rate at 21 percent, according to a person briefed on the package.

That's slightly higher than the 20 percent corporate rate initially favored by President Trump, a rate that outside groups have lobbied to keep in the package.

House conservatives said they didn't like the bump in the corporate rate. But with a tax victory so close, they said the tweak would not be a deal breaker. Here are more details from The Hill's Scott Wong and Alexander Bolton: http://bit.ly/2zaKj1X.


Trump makes last major pitch for GOP tax overhaul: President Trump made his closing argument for tax reform Wednesday, just hours after House and Senate negotiators reached an "agreement in principle" on an overhaul that could give the president his first major legislative victory.

Speaking from the White House and surrounded by families the administration says will benefit from tax cuts, Trump cast the GOP's tax bill as a boon to middle-class families and a victory for ordinary Americans over what he described as out-of-control government bureaucracy.

"Our tax cuts will break down -- and they'll break it down fast -- all forms of government and all forms of government barriers and breathe new life into the American economy," Trump said.

"They will unleash the American people, they will tear down the constraints on discovery, innovation and creation, and they will restore the hopes and dreams of the American family. Millions of middle class families will win under our plan."

Trump stepped away from the lectern to allow the families that surrounded him to speak about how they would benefit and to praise the president for his leadership on the issue.

The speech comes as congressional negotiators are working to reconcile separate bills passed by the House and Senate this fall with the hope of getting final legislation to Trump to sign before Christmas. The Hill's Jonathan Easley reports: http://bit.ly/2zaw1hJ.



Fed raises interest rates for third time in 2017: The Federal Reserve raised interest rates Wednesday for the third time this year and likely for the last time under Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen.

The Federal Open Markets Committee raised benchmark interest rates a quarter of a point, to between 1.25 percent and 1.5 percent.

The Fed last hiked rates in June as part of an effort to peel back the massive cuts meant to boost the economy though the 2008 recession.

The Fed is unlikely to raise rates again under Yellen, a Democrat who is set to leave the bank in February upon the nearly certain confirmation of Fed Governor Jerome Powell as the next chairman.

Powell, a Republican, unanimously voted with Yellen on a slow increase in interest rates during his five years on the Fed board since 2012.

The Fed board also said it continues to expect to raise rates three times in 2018. Powell is likely to continue Yellen's moderately paced rate hikes, though low inflation or the effects of a successful GOP tax plan could force him to change course.

The central bank predicted greater economic growth over the next three years than it had projected in April. I've got more here: http://bit.ly/2zarls4.


Happy Wednesday and welcome back to Overnight Finance. I'm Sylvan Lane, and here's your nightly guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line.

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.


On tap tomorrow

  • House Financial Services Committee: Hearing entitled "Examining the Operations of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS)" http://bit.ly/2BP2SHq, 10 a.m.


House GOP forges ahead with plan to include defense in spending bill: House Republicans are moving ahead with a strategy to pass a short-term spending bill to avoid a government shutdown after next Friday, daring Democrats to oppose full-year defense funding and possible legislative goodies.

GOP leaders briefed rank-and-file lawmakers in a Wednesday meeting on their plans for next week. In addition to seeking to avoid a shutdown next week, Republican leaders also plan to have a final vote then on their tax overhaul.

The stopgap spending patch being discussed by Republicans would last through Jan. 19. Lawmakers said that additional provisions have not yet been finalized, but could include items like disaster aid and an extension of the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

Funding the Pentagon through September 2018 but allowing other agencies to run on autopilot into next month is not likely to sit well with Senate Democrats, whose votes will be needed to clear a bill to avoid a shutdown.

Senate Democrats urged Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanIs Joe Biden finished? Krystal Ball previews fifth Democratic debate Former Speaker Boehner's official portrait unveiled MORE (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOvernight Health Care: Fireworks on health care expected at Dem debate | Trump FDA pick dodges on vaping ban | Trump to host meeting on youth vaping Friday | AMA calls for immediate vaping ban GOP senator blocks vote on House-passed Violence Against Women Act On The Money: Senate scraps plan to force second shutdown vote | Trump tax breaks for low-income neighborhoods draw scrutiny | McConnell rips House Dems for holding up trade deal MORE (R-Ky.) to abandon the strategy of providing full-year funding for military programs but not other domestic programs in the stopgap bill, known as a continuing resolution (CR).

"If presented with partisan legislation that leaves these key priorities behind, we will oppose it," the Democrats wrote: http://bit.ly/2zb9XDH.


Collins confident health subsidies will be in spending bill: Funding for key ObamaCare insurer subsidies is likely to be included in the upcoming government funding bill, Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsTensions rise in Senate's legislative 'graveyard' 2020 Republicans accuse Schumer of snubbing legislation Key Republicans say Biden can break Washington gridlock MORE (R-Maine) said Wednesday.

Collins said she had received reassurances Tuesday from Vice President Pence that the subsidies, opposed by House conservatives, would be in the funding bill.

"The vice president and I had a discussion yesterday that reinforced that agreement that the bills will be considered before the end of the year," Collins said.

Collins told reporters she is confident that deal will be honored in the upcoming government spending bill, and a key conservative in the House backed up her confidence.

"I think she has every reason to believe that it'll be included," said House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsMichelle Obama presents Lin-Manuel Miranda with National Portrait Award Sondland testimony looms over impeachment hearings this week Democrats seize on new evidence in first public impeachment hearing MORE (R-N.C.). "I'm not supportive of that position, but I don't know that she's misled in her confidence."

The Maine senator, a swing vote on the tax bill, reached an agreement with Senate GOP leaders that she would vote for the tax package as long as two bipartisan ObamaCare bills were passed before the end of the year. Nathaniel Weixel has more: http://bit.ly/2AUE9C2


Poll finds majority oppose GOP tax bill: A strong majority of polled voters oppose the Republican tax bill passed by the Senate earlier this month, a new poll finds.

The latest Harvard CAPS-Harris survey found that 64 percent of respondents oppose the bill. While 72 percent of Republicans support the GOP's tax reform efforts, 89 percent of Democrats and 70 percent of independents oppose it.

Many respondents -- 34 percent -- believe the bill will raise their taxes, while 23 percent said they don't believe it would impact them, and 21 percent said they believed it would result in a lower personal tax bill.

The Hill's Jonathan Easley crunches the numbers: http://bit.ly/2Cf2ouW


GOP chairman shoots down Dem effort to delay tax work until Jones is seated: Democrats on Wednesday sought to postpone the House-Senate tax reform conference until after Sen.-elect Doug Jones (D-Ala.) is seated, but their effort was shot down.

Toward the start of the conference committee's open meeting on Wednesday, Rep. Richard NealRichard Edmund NealTrump tax breaks for low-income neighborhoods draw scrutiny On The Money: House passes monthlong stopgap | Broader spending talks stall | Judge orders Democrats to give notice if they request Trump's NY tax returns | Progressives ramp up attacks on private equity Overnight Energy: Mark Ruffalo pushes Congress on 'forever chemicals' | Lawmakers spar over actor's testimony | House Dems unveil renewable energy tax plan | Funding for conservation program passes Senate hurdle MORE (D-Mass.) offered a motion to delay conference work until after Jones takes office. 

The conference is reconciling the House and Senate versions of Republican-pushed tax-reform legislation.

"It's imperative that we respect the will of the people of Alabama," said Neal, the top Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee. He noted that Democrats stopped work on ObamaCare while they waited for Scott Brown (R-Mass.) to be seated after winning a special election for a Senate seat in 2010.

But Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyLawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families How centrist Dems learned to stop worrying and love impeachment On The Money: Senate passes first spending package as shutdown looms | Treasury moves to roll back Obama rules on offshore tax deals | Trade deal talks manage to weather Trump impeachment storm MORE (R-Texas) on Wednesday said Neal's motion was "not available."

Schumer calls for GOP to delay tax bill after Alabama election: Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTensions rise in Senate's legislative 'graveyard' 2020 Republicans accuse Schumer of snubbing legislation Schumer: Leadership trying to work out competing surprise medical bill measures MORE (D-N.Y.) also demanded that Republicans delay a vote on their tax plan following Tuesday's special election in Alabama.

"We Senate Democrats are calling on Mitch McConnell to hit pause on his tax bill and not hold a final vote until Doug Jones is sworn in to the Senate," he told reporters during a press conference on Wednesday.

He added that "it would be wrong for Senate Republicans to jam through this tax bill without giving the newly elected senator from Alabama the opportunity to cast his vote."

Democrat Doug Jones won the special election, defeating GOP candidate Roy Moore, who was facing several accusations of pursuing relationships with teenagers when he was in his 30s. 

Jones's win will narrow the GOP majority in the Senate down to a single seat, 51-49, complicating Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) ability to pass legislation: http://bit.ly/2z9SmvO.


SEC head warns investors about cryptocurrency: The head of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is cautioning investors about putting money into cryptocurrencies in one of the SEC's strongest statements to date on the matter.

SEC Chairman Jay Clayton warned investors to be wary of promises of "fortunes" from cryptocurrencies' rapid rise in value and to be skeptical of the refrain that "this time is different."

"A number of concerns have been raised regarding the cryptocurrency and ICO markets, including that, as they are currently operating, there is substantially less investor protection than in our traditional securities markets, with correspondingly greater opportunities for fraud and manipulation," Clayton said, referring to the initial coin offering (ICO) market.

Clayton did not specify any cryptocurrencies by name, but attention in the past several months has focused primarily on Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin, several of the largest cryptocurrencies by market capitalization and the only three cryptocurrencies available on Coinbase, the largest platform for trading such currency. Their values have skyrocketed in the past week. The Hill's Ali Breland explains: http://bit.ly/2z9y4T3.


Trump nominee to head Ex-Im Bank in trouble: President Trump's nominee to lead the Export-Import Bank appears unlikely to survive a scheduled committee vote next week.

Scott GarrettErnest (Scott) Scott GarrettBiz groups take victory lap on Ex-Im Bank Export-Import Bank back to full strength after Senate confirmations Manufacturers support Reed to helm Ex-Im Bank MORE, a former Republican lawmaker from New Jersey who endured a rough confirmation hearing in early November, has yet to sew up enough support in the Senate Banking Committee, which would block him from advancing to the full Senate.

The Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday announced a hearing in a week to consider Garrett's nomination, along with a slate of four other nominees that would provide the bank with a quorum for the first time in two years.

On Tuesday, Banking Committee Chairman Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoEleven GOP senators sign open letter backing Sessions's comeback bid GOP requests update on criminal referrals prompted by 2018 Kavanaugh probe Nearing finish line, fight for cannabis banking bill shifts to the Senate MORE (R-Idaho) said he wouldn't make any predictions about how the vote will go.

"I'll let the senators speak for themselves," Crapo said.

He said he has been wanting to move to the vote for quite some time.

"I finally determined that I wasn't going to wait any longer. There wasn't any event or development that caused it."

But Garrett's nomination was on the brink of failure on Tuesday. The Hill's Vicki Needham and I tell you why: http://bit.ly/2zaknTU.


From The Hill's opinion pages

Trump's trade policy needs to be implemented now

Tax reform shouldn't include an increase in capital gains tax

The left's 'reverse Robin Hood' tax reform narrative is bunk

The future of Fed policy looks strong


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